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UFC 141: An overview of the upcoming card in Las Vegas

Brock Lesnar and Alistair Overeem make for massive heavyweight bout

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Brock Lesnar stands on the scale during the weigh-in for UFC 116 Friday, July 2, 2010.

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The UFC is marketing former Strikeforce and K-1 champion Alistair Overeem as the rare fighter who can match Brock Lesnar’s sheer size and strength.

Perhaps Overeem can also go toe-to-toe with Lesnar in terms of his outspoken persona. Overeem hasn’t backed down verbally from Lesnar leading into their UFC 141 main event, scheduled for Dec. 30 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

“I’m going to tear this guy apart, piece by piece,” Overeem said at a press conference last month to promote the event.

The UFC signed Overeem (35-11 MMA, 0-0 UFC) earlier this year and immediately christened him as the opponent to welcome Lesnar (5-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC) back to the octagon. Lesnar, one of the promotion’s two biggest pay-per-view stars, hasn’t fought in more than a year because of a recurring intestinal illness.

But the former champion underwent successful surgery and promised to be back to his old self for Las Vegas’ annual New Year’s Eve weekend card.

“Alistair has done a lot of good things overseas,” Lesnar said. “He’s had a lot of good fights and it’s an honor for me to get into the octagon to kick his ass.”

Insightful comments, or anything other than playful trash talk, are few and far between from the two fighters. They aren’t thinking about anything beyond capping off the year successfully and the reward that could lie ahead.

The winner of Lesnar vs. Overeem will get the first shot at newly minted heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos in 2012.

“I have one important mission left in my career and that is to get the UFC gold around my waist,” Overeem said.

Check below for a rundown of the rest of the fights scheduled for UFC 141.

Lightweight Bout: Donald Cerrone (17-3 MMA, 4-0 UFC) vs. Nate Diaz (14-7 MMA, 9-5 UFC) ”Cowboy” Cerrone makes his nearly-unprecedented fifth appearance of the year against Diaz, who is back at his natural weight class.

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Jon Fitch, left, celebrates after beating Thiago Alves at UFC 117 in Oakland, Calif. Fitch won by unanimous decision.

Welterweight Bout: Jon Fitch (23-3-1 MMA, 13-3-1 UFC) vs. Johny Hendricks (11-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) Fitch was a victory away from a second welterweight title shot in February before fighting B.J. Penn to a majority draw and later injuring his shoulder.

Light Heavyweight Bout: Vladimir Matyushenko (26-5 MMA, 7-3 UFC) vs. Alexander Gustafsson (12-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC) The 41-year old Matyushenko started fighting in the UFC more than 10 years ago and headlined the promotion’s first-ever card in Las Vegas, UFC 33, against Tito Ortiz.

Featherweight Bout: Nam Phan (17-9 MMA, 1-2 UFC) vs. Jim Hettes (9-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) The up-and-coming Hettes has won all of his fights by submission, but no one has ever submissioned the veteran Phan.

Featherweight Bout: Ross Pearson (14-5 MMA, 4-2 UFC) vs. Junior Assuncao (13-4 MMA, 2-2 UFC) Pearson, “The Ultimate Fighter” season 9 champion, drops to featherweight for the first time at UFC 141.

Lightweight Bout: Anthony Njokuani (14-5 MMA, 1-1 UFC) vs. Danny Castillo (12-4 MMA, 2-1 UFC) The Las Vegas native Njokuani will test his high-level striking against the strong wrestling ability of Castillo, who fights out of Sacramento, Calif.

Welterweight Bout: Dong Hyun Kim (14-1-1 MMA, 5-1-1 UFC) vs. Sean Pierson (11-5 MMA, 1-1 UFC) Both fighters suffered vicious first-round knockout defeats their last time out — Kim against Carlos Condit at UFC 132 and Pierson against Jake Ellenberger at UFC 129.

Lightweight Bout: Jacob Volkmann (13-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC) vs. Efrain Escudero (18-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 8 champion returns to the octagon for the first time in two years to take on Volkmann, who has won four straight fights.

Welterweight Bout: Matt Riddle (5-3 MMA, 5-3 UFC) vs. Luis Ramos (19-7 MMA, 0-1 UFC) Riddle, a Las Vegas-based fighter, is desperate for a victory after dropping his last two contests.

Featherweight Bout: Manvel Gamburyan (11-6 MMA, 2-4 UFC) vs. Diego Nunes (16-2 MMA, 1-1 UFC) Two exciting 145-pounders look to return from decision losses their last time out.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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