“Why isn’t he moving his head?”

Perhaps you were saying the same thing out loud on Saturday night as Alistair Overeem took kick after kick to his face powered by the leg of Travis Browne. The loss to Browne at UFC Fight Night: Shogun vs. Sonnen was Overeem’s second in a row and leaves him with a UFC record of 1-2. It seems like a decade ago in which Overeem joined the UFC with much fanfare and beat Brock Lesnar at UFC 141. It’s hard to believe that was less than two years ago.

Following the loss, fans and members of the media took to Twitter to pose the question of whether or not Overeem should be cut by the UFC. I don’t understand that at all. Sure, Overeem has consecutive knockout losses in a span of six months, but it’s not like he was overmatched in either fight. Against Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva in February, he was winning handily after the first two rounds, only to have his chin fail him in the third. In his fight with Browne, he was within a second or two of having the fight stopped by referee Mario Yamasaki and winning by TKO. Yamasaki correctly allowed Browne to work his way out of trouble, and Overeem looked to have lost his arms after that.

Is Overeem a bust? No—at least not yet. He hasn’t panned out the way the UFC had envisioned, but he’s still going to attract fans at home and at the gate. Put Overeem on any card and, as of today, his level of intrigue is still going to be high. Going into his next fight people will want to know if his best days are indeed behind him, or if he can right the ship and rattle off a couple of wins to contend for the belt. The knock on Overeem, and rightfully so, is that he doesn’t have the chin to engage in a battle. If he can get his opponent in the clinch and deliver the devastating knees we know he can offer up, then he can still be successful. The knees that Browne took were thunderous, and there are only a few fighters in the UFC who could have taken those shots without buckling over.

The susceptibility of Overeem’s chin has placed him into the same category as Frank Mir. Mir is tough, but his brain gets a little scrambled as soon as someone taps that chin. It’s the same thing that happened to other greats, such as Chuck Liddell. Their power and will to fight are still there, but once the chin goes, so typically does any success down the road.

Overeem is still only 33 years old. There is time for him to contend for the title in a pretty thin heavyweight division. If he gets knocked out yet again in his next fight, then yes, let’s start the cut/bust talk at that point. It’s just a bit unfair to start throwing Overeem under the bus after losing two straight fights in which he nearly secured the win.

UFC welterweight Hector Lombard is another name that comes to mind when debating whether or not somebody is a bust. Lombard didn’t have quite the same star power that Overeem had when he joined the UFC, and as of right now it would be a surprise if most casual fans have heard of Lombard. Yet, heading into the summer of 2012, he was supposed to be the next great thing in the UFC.

Lombard signed with the UFC in April of last year on the heels of a 25-fight unbeaten streak and with a record of 31-2-1 overall. His 17 knockouts leading up to signing with the UFC excited fans, and there was a bit of a buzz heading into his first fight against Tim Boetsch. Lombard had 18 of his 31 wins come in the first round and he had the physical presence of a chiseled cartoon character. The stage was set for Lombard at UFC 149, but he laid an egg. We’re still not sure if it was Octagon jitters or if he was just flat, but Boetsch was the better man that night and earned the split decision win.

As soon as Boetsch’s hand was raised, the star shining so brightly over Lombard’s head started to dim quite a bit. His next shot at maintaining what little momentum he had left came against Rousimar Palhares just five months later. We saw a perfect example of what Lombard was capable of doing as he manhandled Palhares for a first-round knockout. While many of us buckled our seat belts in preparation of Lombard’s run to the title, the hype train was derailed once again when he lost his next fight to Yushin Okami earlier this year.

Lombard’s two losses in three fights under the UFC banner match the amount of losses he had during the previous six years of his career. It also prompted him to move from the 185-pound weight class to the 170-pound weight class. His rough start further stymies any chance he will have of fighting for the belt in the near future, with the likes of Johny Hendricks, Carlos Condit, Rory MacDonald, Demain Maia and many others log-jamming the welterweight division..

“Lightning” makes his UFC welterweight debut in October at UFC 166 against Nate Marquardt. A win over Marquardt would give Lombard a much-needed fresh start as he tries to leapfrog some of the contenders in the division. It could be said Lombard has been a bust so far for the UFC given the fact that heading into his fourth UFC fight he isn’t attracting any more fans than he did in his first fight. In fact, the buzz surrounding him now is non-existent. Thankfully for Lombard, he’s fighting on a stacked card and will have the chance to shine and re-create himself.

I don’t like to call somebody a bust. Who are we to tell a fighter they are a bust? Whether or not the results of their training lead them to the win column, more often than not we can agree that they pour everything they have into their camps and their fights.

Alistair Overeem and Hector Lombard landed in the UFC from two entirely different journeys, and they will never cross paths inside the Octagon. The way they were built up by fans, the media and the UFC made it such that they’d have to be near perfect to meet our expectations. The fact of the matter is that both have struggled out of the gate and are perhaps one poor performance away from finding themselves fighting for another organization. You can’t call somebody a bust until they are finished. Overeem and Lombard aren’t done. There’s time for both to do something special, and as long as they are fighting for the UFC, there’s no way either one of them can be considered a bust.

Photo: Alistair Overeem (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

About The Author

Joe Chacon
Staff Writer

Joe Chacon is a Southern California writer that has also spent time as a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report, as well as a Staff Writer for Operation Sports. Joe has a passion for the sport of MMA, as well as most other sports.