In the main UFC event at the fan-less VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida, Walt Harris nearly picked up a knockout victory over Alistair Overeem, only for Overeem to come back and take over the fight. After Overeem scored a second-round TKO, he embraced Harris, who was fighting for the first time since the death of his stepdaughter in late 2019.
Harris looked to be on his way to a stoppage win in Round 1, blitzing Overeem and dropping him with a huge flurry followed by heavy ground-and-pound work on the floor. But Harris slipped and it gave his opponent an opportunity to take top position. Overeem used the position to pound Harris for more than half the round.
It was a chaotic few weeks for Overeem, who traveled back and forth between his home in the Netherlands to the United States along with a fight postponement before finally getting the win on Saturday night.
“You just stay focused,” Overeem said afterwards. “Pandemic or no pandemic. It’s been a long ride but somehow I keep finding the focus.
“Let’s look at the rankings. Fight again later this year. Maybe we’re going to see if there’s one more shot at the title.”
Despite the loss, fans poured the congratulations and salutes from all over for Harris after the fight was over as people marveled at his courage and effort.
Overeem celebrated his 40th birthday just past midnight.
The theme for much of the rest of the night was tight decisions. On the main card alone, Claudia Gadelha edged past Angela Hill by split decision, and Dan Ige did the same against Edson Barboza. Song Yadong won a unanimous decision over Marlon Vera, with all three judges scoring the fight 29-28 in his favor, but that result was equally tight.
It was an emotional Saturday night in Jacksonville as the UFC wrapped up its three-card stay in Florida.