Alistair Overeem def. Walt Harris at UFC on ESPN 8: Best photos
Alistair Overeem played the unfortunate villain in Walt Harris’ emotional comeback story Saturday when he emerged victorious in the UFC on ESPN 8 main event.
Overeem (46-18 MMA, 11-7 UFC) was compassionate to Harris’ (13-8 MMA, 6-7 UFC) journey back to the cage after the shocking murder of his stepdaughter this past fall, but promised it would be “all business” when fight night arrived. He delivered, scoring a second-round TKO victory in what was Overeem’s 65th professional fight.
It was a wild back-and-forth fight, with both men knocking each other down. Overeem did it better, though, and picked up the stoppage win at the 3:00 mark of Round 2.
The heavyweight bout was the UFC on ESPN 8 main event at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla. It aired on ESPN and streamed on ESPN+.
Harris came out swinging hard hands at Overeem, who looked to use footwork and be evasive. He couldn’t do it for long, though, because Harris connected with an enormous shot that dropped Overeem to the canvas. Harris swarmed, but Overeem somehow survived the initial attack and subsequent finishing attempts. Overeem got back up, and with a huge cut around his right eyebrow, managed to secure a takedown on Harris. Overeem attacked from on top, chipping away at a fatigued Harris with ground-and-pound for the remainder of the round.
The action picked up where it left off in the second. The pair came out throwing heavy strikes, and Overeem went over the top of Harris’ guard with a sneaky head kick to score a knockdown. Overeem battered Harris from there. Referee Dan Miragliotta gave Harris ever chance to move position and get himself out of danger, but Overeem trapped him in back mount and pounded away until the fight was waved off.
Overeem credited his determination for the win, and with three wins in his past four fights, is looking to make another push to title.
“Somehow, I keep finding the focus. I love it,” Overeem said in his post-fight interview with Paul Felder. “Let’s look at the rankings, fight again later this year and maybe see if there’s one more shot at the title.”
Harris, for his part, was emotional after the loss. However, he vowed to come back stronger.
“I want to say thank you first and foremost to he UFC,” Harris said. “They’ve been amazing through the whole process. My wife and my family is so grateful. We owe you guys everything … I’m so grateful to you guys.”
Up-to-the-minute UFC on ESPN 8 results include:
- Alistair Overeem def. Walt Harris via TKO (punches) Round 2, 3:00
- Claudia Gadelha def. Angela Hill via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Dan Ige def. Edson Barboza via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Krzysztof Jotko def. Eryk Anders via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Song Yadong def. Marlon Vera via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Miguel Baeza def. Matt Brown via knockout (punches) Round 2, 0:18
- Kevin Holland def. Anthony Hernandez via TKO (punches) Round 1, 0:39
- Giga Chikadze def. Irwin Rivera via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
- Nate Landwehr def. Darren Elkins via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
- Cortney Casey def. Mara Romero Borella via submission (armbar) Round 1, 3:36
- Rodrigo Nascimento def. DonTale Mayes via submission (rear-naked choke) Round 2, 2:05
UFC on ESPN 8: Official scorecards from Jacksonville, Fla.
UFC on ESPN 8 in an empty Jacksonville arena: Best photos