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Breaking down UFC 141 meeting between Brock Lesnar and Alistair Overeem

Lesnar’s wrestling, Overeem’s striking make for interesting stylistic clash

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Sam Morris

Dutch heavyweight Alistair Overeem boxes with Roberto Flamingo during an open workout in advance of UFC 141 Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011. Overeem will face former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar on Friday.

UFC 141 Workout

Brock Lesnar talks to the media during an open workout in advance of UFC 141 Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011. Lesnar will face Dutch heavyweight Alistair Overeem on Friday. Launch slideshow »

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The prevailing thought surrounding the UFC 141 main event Friday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena indicates the fight will play out in one of two ways.

Option A: Brock Lesnar uses his world-class wrestling and pounds Alistair Overeem out after getting the fight to the ground. Option B: Overeem employs his elite kickboxing and buries Lesnar on the feet.

“It’s definitely going to be more complex than that, but maybe not,” Overeem said Tuesday at the UFC 141 open workouts. “Maybe it’s going to be simple. You’re just going to have to wait and see in three days.”

Neither of the two top heavyweights, who are fighting for the right to challenge champion Junior dos Santos, are giving much away about their game plan. Lesnar (5-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC) and Overeem (35-11 MMA, 0-0 UFC) are also keeping most details about their training camps secret.

The only belief they both revealed is the feeling that they’ve turned a personal weakness into strength while preparing for each other.

“I’ve always been working on my wrestling,” Overeem said. “But for this, I’ve been working with wrestlers.”

Although Overeem is on a 10-fight winning streak, he hasn’t encountered any wrestlers of Lesnar’s ilk during that four-year span. That lack of experience thwarting takedowns makes him look vulnerable.

Likewise, striking serves as the most notable question mark when it comes to Lesnar. The former UFC champion doesn’t respond well to getting hit. It cost Lesnar the belt in his last fight, a first round TKO loss to Cain Velasquez at UFC 120, and also caused a colossal beating at UFC 116 before he came back to beat Shane Carwin.

But Lesnar hasn’t fought in 14 months. While he devoted most of his time away to battling a serious intestinal illness and tending to his farm in the remote woods of Minnesota, Lesnar also said he developed his striking further.

He worked extensively with fellow UFC heavyweight Pat Barry, who like Overeem, has a kickboxing background. Lesnar, who rarely praises anyone, called Barry “the best”.

“This guy, when he first got to my gym, ran circles around me,” Lesnar said. “Now, we’re banging. It’s lookout time. Having a guy like Pat in my gym to stand in front of me and mimic Alistair, it’s big.”

Lesnar doubted Overeem enjoyed the same luxury. He insinuated that no one was capable of imitating his style.

“You don’t get to sit there and be me,” Lesnar said. “There’s no one else out there.”

“I don’t think he really understands. The UFC, this is the best of the best.”

Overeem wasn’t much concerned with scouting Lesnar leading into their bout. He didn’t study any tape or re-watch any of Lesnar’s fights.

Overeem figured there was no need because he had already seen all of Lesnar’s bouts. Overeem, who has spent his entire career outside of the UFC, said he would always wake up early in the morning in Holland to watch pay-per-view cards that Lesnar was on.

“He’s a figure that attracts attention,” Overeem said. “His fights are entertaining and he always brings it. He does go for the kill.”

With neither fighter willing to offer much in terms of a fight preview, attention and entertainment seem to be the only guarantees at UFC 141.

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

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