Major Overall has won just two fights for ONE Championship, but the 32-year-old has already provided more than his fair share of entertainment.
His last two wins have both come with first round stoppages and the featherweight is rapidly establishing himself as a fan favourite.
It’s a far cry from 2012 when Overall made his ONE debut and was stopped in the second round. It remains the only defeat of his career to date and the circumstances surrounding that occasion were far from ideal.
“I was sitting on a coach being fat and happy when suddenly the phone rang. I was asked to fight that same weekend and at a heavier weight class. I had never been more out of shape in my life, but I was young and reckless so of course I said ‘yes’. I honestly didn’t care if I won or lost, I was there to put on an exciting fight and save the card but I have to admit it was embarrassing being so fat and shirtless on TV.”
Overall still managed to provide some entertainment that night, before succumbing to a second round submission from Singaporean lightweight Kim Hock. Despite the disappointment he decided to put his fight purse to good use.
“I gave it all away, well, most of it anyway. After that fight I just decided to go to Cambodia. Completely random I know, but it was the closest country that I hadn’t been to. When I got there I realized how in need so many people were and how much my US dollars could buy. I thought it would be awesome if I could help some of the people with the money I just made. So I just used the money to buy food for several families in a small village.”
Next up for Overall is a fight with former lightweight champion Kotetsu Boku at ONE: ‘Dynasty of Champions’ in Shanghai, which has reportedly been rescheduled for 17 September.
He will be looking for the seventh win of his pro career and things have happened fast for him in the last year but he had to wait a while to get back in the spotlight after the loss to Hock.
In fact it would be over two years before Overall got an opportunity to compete inside the ONE cage again. When the call came it was another tough assignment, against undefeated BJJ black belt Bruno Pucci.
“I was very happy and excited to make my ONE sophomore appearance,” Overall said.
“I had lots of time to improve and I really wanted to test myself so I was super pumped and motivated to be matched up with such a high level opponent.”
Overall came into his fight with Pucci as an underdog but he showcased some solid submission defence and superb striking skills. First he reversed a takedown from the BJJ black belt and then he tagged him with an overhand right followed by a soccer kick for a highlight reel KO.
In the two minutes and 52 seconds it took to finish Pucci he went from the fringes of the ONE featherweight roster to becoming a potential title contender. Overall enhanced his burgeoning reputation five months later when he finished Cary Bullos with a rear naked choke after just 29 seconds.
There are some very strong contenders in ONE’s 145 lbs division with Jadamba Narutungalag defending his belt against Marat Gafurov next month and Herbert Burns facing Timofei Nastyushkin on the same card. Meanwhile Eric Kelly waits in the wings but Overall believes he is very much in the mix.
“One Championship signs new fighters at a higher frequency than I fight, so it’s literally impossible to clear out the entire division (aside from going on a rampage in the locker room) but I’ve been with One Championship the longest out of the active roster and have never lost in my division.
“I have seniority and a proven performance history so if this were an office job I would be next in line for the promotion… but I still have to beat Boku before I really get too crazy about all that.”
MAYBE I NEED A FIGHTER LOOK. I’LL HAVE TO WORK ON THE MUSCLES, A FUNNY HAIRCUT AND SCARY TATTOOS.
Beating Boku is no easy assignment as the likes of Zorobabel Moreira and Arnaud Lepont have discovered to their cost. The Japanese fighter is coming off a very impressive win on his featherweight debut and Overall is under no illusions as to the size of the task which awaits him in Shanghai.
“Boku will be my toughest opponent but I will also be the best I’ve ever been so it may or may not be my toughest fight. We’ll have to see how the two of us compare on that day. I’m guessing he’ll be the most resistant to the nap I’m trying to give him during the fight, but probably the least resistant to the beer I offer him after the fight. He seems like a fun guy.”
Overall is not exactly known for taking life too seriously himself. He’s almost as entertaining to interview as he is inside the cage and the question of whether a win over Boku should earn him a title shot brings a typically light whimsical response.
“I don’t know. I’ve taken out four champions in less than five minutes combined and I still haven’t been given the opportunity to win my own belt. Maybe it’s not about winning or being a fight finisher, maybe I need a fighter look. I’ll have to work on the muscles, a funny haircut and scary tattoos.”
The prospect of challenging for the ONE title must be a tantalizing one for a fighter who has spent much of his career competing for promotions further towards the fringes of the Asian MMA scene. There are no shortage of contenders in the 145 lbs division but Overall suddenly becomes more serious when discussing a subject which for all the American’s irreverence is clearly very close to his heart,
“Well, with this potential win I would have a longer ONE Championship winning streak in my division than any ONE featherweight champion ever so it makes sense that I should be next.”
Overall might not take himself too seriously but he has proved in his last two performances that he is no joke. To go from losing as a last minute replacement to winning an actual title with ONE would be quite a comeback, but Boku could be all that is standing between one of the funniest fighters in the sport and a shot at the belt.