If all goes according to plan for Alistair Overeem, the lone remaining void in his already supersized trophy case will soon be filled.
Overeem cleared perhaps the final obstacle standing between him and a crack at the Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight crown, as he smashed through Andrei Arlovski in the UFC Fight Night 87 main event on Sunday at Ahoy Rotterdam in Rotterdam, Netherlands. The former Dream and Strikeforce champion sewed up his fourth consecutive victory 72 seconds into the second round, burying Arlovski with a flying front kick, left hook and follow-up punches before a partisan crowd.
Since being upset by Ben Rothwell a little less than two years ago, Overeem has responded with blowout wins over Stefan Struve, Roy Nelson, Junior dos Santos and Arlovski. Nelson was the only man of the four to see the final bell, and he was outlanded by almost a 3-to-1 margin across 15 minutes, according to FightMetric figures.
In wake of UFC Fight Night “Overeem vs. Arlovski,” here are five matchups that ought to be considered:
Alistair Overeem vs. Fabricio Werdum-Stipe Miocic winner: Overeem has done his part, the ball now firmly in the court of UFC matchmakers. The soon-to-be 36-year-old Dutchman has pieced together a four-fight winning streak against top-flight opposition and put himself in position to challenge for the heavyweight division’s top prize. Werdum -- a man against whom Overeem is 1-1 in two previous meetings -- will defend the title against Miocic in the UFC 198 headliner on May 14 in Curitiba, Brazil.
Stefan Struve vs. Alexey Oleinik-Daniel Omielanczuk winner: A loser in three of his previous four appearances, Struve got the win he desperately needed at the expense of a shopworn Antonio Silva. It took the “Skyscraper” all of 15 seconds to finish Silva with elbows to the side of the head, the performance helping to chip away some of the lingering memories of a dreadful unanimous decision defeat to Jared Rosholt in November. Oleinik and Omielanczuk will lock horns at UFC Fight Night “Ferguson vs. Chiesa” on July 13 in South Dakota.
Gunnar Nelson vs. Neil Magny: Nelson rebounded from his blowout loss to Demian Maia at UFC 194 and did so in spectacular fashion. The Renzo Gracie-trained Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt kept Albert Tumenov off-balance with lunging punches on the feet, grounded him repeatedly and carved through his guard with ease before submitting the man they call “Einstein” with a neck crank in the second round. Nelson has compiled a 6-2 record since arriving in the UFC in 2012 and still has plenty of room for growth at age 27. Magny has won 10 of his past 11 bouts and last fought on March 20, when he stopped Hector Lombard on third-round punches.
Germaine de Randamie vs. Cristiane Justino-Leslie Smith winner: Anna Elmose never stood a chance against de Randamie. “The Iron Lady” picked apart Elmose, ultimately trapped the Rumble Sports export along the fence and sent a knee crashing into her solar plexus. The 31-year-old Dane dropped where she stood, prompting referee Rich Mitchell to act 3:46 into round one. De Randamie has recorded back-to-back victories and appears to be trending upward in the women’s bantamweight division. Justino will make her long awaited Octagon debut opposite Smith at UFC 198 on May 14.
Nikita Krylov vs. Ilir Latifi: Krylov was sloppy at times and reckless at others but got the job done against Francimar Barroso, as he became the first man to submit the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. Barroso tapped to a rear-naked choke 3:11 into round two. The still-developing Krylov, 24, has rattled off four straight wins since being choked unconscious by Ovince St. Preux at UFC 171 in March 2014. The Ukrainian remains an intriguing talent at 205 pounds, especially when considering the lack of quality depth in the division. On a three-fight winning streak, Latifi last competed at UFC 196 on March 5, when he took a three-round unanimous decision from former Ring of Combat champion Gian Villante.