Who’s next for Alistair Overeem?

That sounds like a million-dollar question in desperate need of a billion-dollar answer.

Overeem stands on the outside looking in after defeating Brock Lesnar at UFC 141 and failing a pre-fight drug test for elevated levels of testosterone prior to UFC 146. Nobody can guarantee that he will fight the winner of UFC 155’s heavyweight title main event of Junior dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez, but his list of reasonable “welcome back” opponents reads like anything but a who’s who.

As a matter of fact, the only opponents that come to mind are Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva and Mark Hunt, both of whom called out Overeem recently. That said, who between the two stands as a better challenge, if Overeem opts to do one more battle before his bid for the belt?

Between the two, Silva appears a more logical option for a number of reasons.

First, Silva recently handed Travis Browne his first loss. Right now, the prospect of Silva getting a rematch with Fabricio Werdum depends on a win this summer over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, while a fight with Nogueira banks on a win in his own rematch over Werdum—and Nogueira’s willingness to fight Silva, who does occasionally train with Team Nogueira. Equally, a fight with the winner of Shane Carwin vs. Roy Nelson presents the perfect setup for Silva to lose his momentum, as both men possess the knockout power that plagued some of Silva’s earlier performances. And of course, we must not assume Daniel Cormier defeats Dion Staring.

To put this simply, Silva’s other reasonable options already have signed on for other bouts—and they only enjoy a 50/50 chance of prevailing—while the other reasonable options provide reasonable steps up in competition, albeit ones that present situations for Silva to expose his suspect chin rather than implement his reach.

And the second reason is that Overeem vs. Bigfoot holds as a long overdue bout. After Silva defeated Fedor Emelianenko in Strikeforce’s Heavyweight Grand Prix, Overeem defeated Werdum, thus setting up a bout with Silva in the semifinals. However, an injury forced Overeem from the bout, thus making way for Cormier. Not only does the would-have-been semifinal justify the bout, but the back-and-forth verbal jabs between Overeem and Silva—as mentioned before, a training partner of Team Nogueira, especially dos Santos—justifies it in itself.

Finally, consider things from Overeem’s perspective. He knows he has few challenges standing in the way of his crack at the gold, but he also knows that, as we have already said, the UFC cannot guarantee that he will get either dos Santos or Velasquez next.

If the winner of dos Santos-Velasquez 2 gets injured, who does that leave Overeem? Frank Mir might get clearance to fight Overeem by the time Overeem gets licensed, but who can promise that Mir even gets the offer? Stefan Struve appears long overdue for a step up in competition, but beating Stipe Miocic never equated to having the stand-up needed to expose Overeem’s technical flaws.

Still, some will rally for Hunt. That rally occurred with splendid expectations, but Hunt must press onward with his evolution if we are to argue his case towards a rematch with Overeem. Remember, Hunt owns a submission loss to Overeem from back in their Pride days, and while Overeem might favor the standing guillotine now, he still possesses a solid arsenal of submissions to complement his elite-level striking. Hunt has yet to prove that he can fend off a good submission attempt from a man who knows what to do with a good submission game.

Silva, in contrast to Hunt, knows as much about using a submission game properly as he knows about finding a home for a hellacious right hand. It’d be an understatement to say that Silva easily presents a threat to Overeem. In the same breath, Overeem presents a well-known threat to Silva in various areas, and he can deliver results without even elevating his T/E ratios before the fight.

Whether or not this ever happens is another story entirely, but if Overeem can’t get dos Santos or Velasquez next, and if Silva can’t draw a foe by the time we get a decent read on Overeem’s timetable for return, this heavyweight tussle starts to make a lot of sense.

Of course, if Bigfoot keeps sounding off, it may prove the only option.

Photo: Alistair Overeem (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

Dale De Souza
Staff Writer

Dale De Souza is a 22-year-old kid straight out of Texas, who grew up around Professional Wrestling but embraced the beauty of Mixed Martial Arts and Combat Sports at a young age. Dale is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report MMA, a writer at The MMA Corner.