Alistair Overeem, who owns about as many heavyweight titles he never defends as he does wins over impressive opponents, is a fraud. At those moments when you are tempted to think that fighting is, for all its bright promise, about the most thoroughly debased sport one can follow, think of this thick rope of Dutch muscle and despair.
This Saturday in Dallas, Overeem will take the first really serious fight he's had in four years, a quarterfinal bout in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix. If he beats Fabricio Werdum, it will be, speaking generously, the fourth impressive win in a long career, and the first since 2006. That such things can be said of a man widely, if inexplicably, held to be one of the best heavyweights in the world makes him a fine example of what you might call the B.J. Penn Fallacy.
The Penn Fallacy occurs when a fighter is thought of as top rank despite there being no evidence that he is. It holds theory above practice and style above achievement, and lends support to all promoters who seek to carefully manicure the images of fighters who look or talk a part they can't actually play. It negates the very point of fighting, which is that it is a sport in which a man is wholly accountable for, and judged by, what actually happens in his fights. It is bad, and ought to be done away with.
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