May 14, 2020 / 12:06 AM / 3 months ago

Overeem finally set to battle Harris on UFC's Saturday card

FILE PHOTO: Dec 7, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; Alistair Overeem (red gloves) is announced before his fight against Jairzinho Rozenstruik (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

An intriguing heavyweight showdown tops the bill as the UFC finishes its memorable and controversial run of three events in eight days in Jacksonville, Fla., on Saturday night with a fight card that will air on ESPN.

Popular veteran Alistair Overeem (45-18) of the Netherlands takes on up-and-comer Walt Harris (13-7) of Birmingham, Ala., in the main event of the evening’s festivities. The bout which was originally scheduled for Dec. 6, but canceled for tragic reasons.

In a case which made national headlines, Harris’ 19-year-old stepdaughter, Aniah Blanchard, went missing in Auburn, Ala., in November, and was eventually found dead. A Montgomery, Ala., man with a lengthy criminal history was charged with capital murder in the ongoing case.

Overeem stayed on the Dec. 7 fight card after Harris withdrew, and he was well on his way to defeating Suriname’s Jairzinho Rozenstruik via what was expected to be a unanimous decision before Rozenstruik landed a whopper of a knockout punch with just four seconds remaining in the fight.

That ended a two-fight winning streak for Overeem, who has made a habit out of getting knocked down and picking himself back up and finding his way back into title contention during his lengthy career. However, Overeem turns 40 on Sunday, and he’ll face a hungry gamer in Harris.

Harris, who has been exclusively with the UFC since 2014, has not lost since 2017, winning his past three official bouts, all of which have been finishes. He also had another split-decision win turned into a no-contest when he failed a drug test. His past two victories have been knockouts that played out in a combined time of 1 minute, 2 seconds.

The Saturday card marks the final event the mixed martial arts promotion will hold at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, as the UFC became the first major North American sports entity to resume action during the COVID-19 pandemic. Several precautions were put in place, from multiple tests for coronavirus for all involved to running the events behind closed doors without fans admitted.

—Field Level Media

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