Walt Harris v Alistair Overeem: In form favourite targets another early KO win in week of upsets

UFC fighter Walt Harris
Betting favourite Walt Harris
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The third show in seven days from UFC and followers have already witnessed their fair share of upsets. Will Saturday provide another? Betfair's Frankie Monkhouse investigates...

"The underdog’s recent form is patchy, to say the least. He has won only two of his last five."

Walt Harris v Alistair Overeem
Sunday, 06:00
Live on BT Sport

Fight fans look forward to their third show from the Ultimate Fighting Championship promotion this week. UFC is back at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Florida on Saturday for what will be another card shut off to the public, decided behind closed doors.

The stands may be deserted but live TV cameras will be in attendance with UK fans able to follow the action into the early hours of Sunday morning. A heavyweight contest rates as the bill topper as Walt Harris and Alistair Overeem clash.

The early betting on the Betfair Sportsbook suggests this is a case of how early Harris can cash in but, as we have already witnessed this week, professional MMA is full of surprises.

Hard-hitting Harris hot favourite

Harris - nicknamed The Vault - is a hard-hitting American. The imposing gladiator stands at 6ft 5inches tall and carries a professional MMA record of 13 wins against seven defeats and one no contest. Of his victories, all 13 have come by way of knockout, making him one of the most feared men in the top division at present. The 36-year-old from Alabama enjoys a top 10 ranking in the division but knows victory this weekend would drive him towards bigger and better fights.

He was seen scoring a stunning first round KO over Aleksei Oleinik in Texas last summer, a win that also earned Walt a performance of the night bonus. That was his second opening round stoppage and performance of the night after making light work of Sergey Spivak in Canada two months earlier. If he is able to get rid of Overeem early, it would send out a real message of intent to his rivals and could thrust him into title contention.

Traders seem confident in the fact Harris will collect win number 14 of his career, so much so, he's available at no better than 8/13 on the Sportsbook. That's tight, given the upset results of the week and the unique atmosphere but it is sure to be popular with accumulator backers. Another KO will also draw support at 10/11.

Experience key for aging Overeem

Opponent Overeem may have been written off by bettors but he's an experienced sort and knows more than enough to ensure he'll pose a serious threat to the jolly. The Dutchman may be 39 years old and fast approaching the end of his career but that makes him a dangerous man. He understands this could prove to be his final shot at moving back towards the top names in the division.

Lose here and The Demolition Man will drop further down the rankings, slipping towards retirement. He carries into the octagon a record that demands respect, having won 45 times in a 64-fight career. Of those victories, 23 have come by knockout, 17 submission and five on the scorecards. It's worth keeping in mind that Overeem has been KO'd 14 times himself.

He was last seen suffering a stoppage defeat at the hands of Jairinho Rozentruik in Washington late last year, cut down in round five of what had been a gripping contest. The underdog's recent form is patchy, to say the least. He has won only two of his last five. That goes some way to explaining why backers will get 5/4 on him winning this bout.

Expect a fast start from The Vault

A look at the recent form of both men tells us this is a fight worth watching but it also explains exactly why Betfair traders are in such a rush to support the American. Walt's last three wins have come by knockout in the opening two rounds, his two most recent being first round victories.

Keep that in mind when remembering Overeem was stopped last time and each of his last 11 defeats have been via KO, many in the opening couple of rounds. That pushes us towards the obvious, a stoppage win for Harris.

Frank Monkhouse,

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