UFC on ESPN 8 Betting Picks: Walt Harris vs Alistair Overeem

BetOnline.ag has the best lines for this fight.

This main event has some variables! I think it’s important to start with that. I want to be completely transparent with you guys. There are fights, like one I just picked, Gadelha vs Hill, with minimal possibilities.

And there are heavyweight matchups like this one with two very powerful strikers who each have glaring holes in their respective MMA games.

Alistair Overeem has been fighting at the highest level of MMA for nearly two decades.

The British-born Dutchman fought UFC Hall of Famer Chuck Liddell at the Super Saitama Arena in Japan in 2003 if that tells you anything. The Reem has been pro since 1999!

Alistair has competed in K-1 which was the #1 kickboxing organization in the world at one time. He fought Remy Bonjasky to a decision and knocked out Badr Hari.

Look these guys up when you get the chance if you want to see heavyweight striking at its best. We can safely say that Alistair Overeem has the advantage in experience in this fight. Or can we?

Walt Harris (-142) vs Alistair Overeem (+128)

To answer the previous question, we must first define the word “experience”.

More fights and more time. Okay, you’re right but what if I told you that a concussion was an experience?

  • Alistair has been KO’ed 9 times in professional competition including his kickboxing bouts. But wait, there’s more. 7 TKO’s. That’s 17 total and who knows how many he’s had in sparring? Oh, and he turns 40 in a few days.
  • Walt Harris has been fighting professionally since 2011 and has been with the organization for nearly 7 years. In 20 professional fights, Walt has been KO’ed zero times and has just one TKO loss on his record of 13-7.

That experience argument gets a little muddier, huh?

The Reem has somewhat reinvented himself, though. Not many professional fights can do that much less a 20-year pro. He is more aware than anyone of how weak his chin has become.

When you fight heavyweight killer after killer for two decades, you’re going to get knocked out a few times so I don’t think he was chinny in his prime. They have just added up over time.

Once your chin goes, though, it’s gone. And The Reem’s chin has left the building.

Alistair is very very intelligent and because of that, you can never count him out of a fight. He may be one of the smartest fighters in the UFC.

He has the highest significant striking percentage in UFC history. He lands at an alarming rate of 73%!

I would say the average is in the low to mid-40s. Anderson Silva-61%. Jon Jones and Israel Adesanya-55%. Walt Harris is at 38%… Every single one of his 13 wins, though, have come by knockout.

So, if you only need one… Overeem is very hittable too, absorbing 4.68/minute.

Alistair is not too proud to take a fight to the ground if he thinks it’s the most advantageous thing to do, though. He went for 10 takedowns on Jairzinho Rozenstruik in his last fight but was only able to secure two of them.

He was winning that contest convincingly before his upper lip was split completely in half, and quickly finished and left sitting against the cage with just 4 seconds remaining in the 5-round main event. It was a very tough break.

Many people think Rozenstruik is the same fighter on paper as Harris but that’s not true.

Jairzinho allowed Alistair to fight at range where he was comfortable for most of the fight. He is very patient. It was when he finally decided to charge him with 10 seconds remaining that he found success.

Walt is 100% a front foot aggressive striker with deadly power. Not one of his wins or losses for that matter has come against anyone close to the striking level of Alistair Overeem.

The Dutchman is the better overall fighter but can the 40-year-old change levels fast enough to time a shot and take this guy down?

Alistair is the better striker than Walt but even though he demonstrated his dominance over Rozenstruik for over 24 minutes, he still lost. He went for 10 takedowns in his last fight. We have no reason to believe he won’t do it again.

4 men have attempted a takedown on Harris in his UFC career. All 4 of those men beat him.

Did I mention there were a lot of variables?
This one is complicated and thanks for sticking with me this far.

I haven’t mentioned it yet because I wanted to focus on the pick without an emotional narrative but something very tragic happened to the Harris family late in 2019.

His daughter, Aniyah, who had gone missing in October, was found dead a month later. A suspect has been arrested and is awaiting trial for 1st-degree murder.

Walt hasn’t competed since and will undoubtedly be carrying a lot of emotional baggage with him in the Octagon. This could work in his favor or it could eventually lead to his downfall.

I think Harris will be incredibly dangerous in the first round but if Alistair can get him halfway through the 2nd, all that emotional weight will go from Walt’s hands directly on top of his shoulders. Adrenaline dumps are real and experienced fighters normally don’t have to worry about it but this isn’t a normal situation.

If you’re a conspiracy theorist at all, then you might think that a big win for him under this national spotlight with everyone stuck at home and no other sports going on would capture the hearts of viewers. This will be on ESPN too…

I really don’t want to pull against Harris but I think the matchup and the situation, conspiracy aside, play against him.

With all that being said, I believe the Reem covers with both hands trying to let Walt punch himself out and get the timing on a potential shot at Harris’s legs.

The only problem is Walt has enough power and length to place one knuckle behind the ear. Walt gets the early emotional win!

Let’s get the even money for a TKO/KO win. That is how he has won every other UFC fight.

My Pick

In Conclusion

I know I was rambling a bit there, guys.

I wanted to note the most important variables going into Saturday night’s main event and you can’t say I didn’t warn you. Sometimes, being the better overall fighter doesn’t mean you’re going to win.

Specialists make it happen every week.

If The Reem would have been able to stay upright for 10 more seconds in his last fight, I think I would take him here as the underdog. Harris isn’t that expensive, though, and getting even money on a method of victory he is already 100% at, is great.

You’re going to have to be quite a big fan of Alistair or have a lot of money riding on this one to root against Walt Harris.

Losing a child is known to be the worst thing anyone will have to go through. I hope his family is beginning to recover emotionally from this.

Alistair could play the ultimate villain by taking his opponent to the mat and grinding him down to an emotional pulp. The sporting world along with Walt and his family could use a win on Saturday night.

Fingers crossed for Walt Harris.

Mike Pruitt / Author

Mike has been covering sports professionally since 2017 but on the amateur scene for 25 years since when he was 12. Before the internet changed the world, he would keep detailed statistical box scores of NFL and NBA contests, write recaps, and voluntarily commentate games and fights alone in his room. Mike's military experience, Bachelors Degree, and employment thereafter were always rooted in engineering, science, and teaching. Now he enjoys being able to express himself through writing about football, golf, and car racing among other sports but most of all fighting as his life has been rooted in mixed martial arts including competing and teaching for the past 15 years.