Alistair Overeem: Bout with Brock Lesnar Could Be “Biggest Fight Ever”
By Kelsey Mowatt
While the Ultimate Fighting Championship has added many noteworthy competitors and stars to its roster over the recent years, few possessed the kind of resume that Alistair Overeem did when he recently signed with the promotion. In addition, not only did the Strikeforce, Dream and K-1 champion join the UFC at a time of unprecedented success in his career, Overeem will make his Octagon debut in December against arguably the sport’s biggest name, Brock Lesnar. In terms of accomplishments and fame, Overeem could be just getting started.
“To be honest, I think this is one of the biggest fights ever held in any combat sport,” Overeem told FCF while discussing the potential for his UFC 141 bout with Lesnar. “Having a famous WWE and ex-UFC champion fighting an international K-1, Dream and Strikeforce champion with different styles is so compelling that I think it can be built as the biggest fight ever.”
“Both Brock and myself attract fans outside of the UFC fan base because I know that my K-1 fans would want to see this fight as well,” Overeem added. “If you are not a fan of combat sport but you see a promo on FOX of our upcoming fight, I think that people would become curious that they want to see the outcome of the fight.”
Of course it wasn’t long ago that the future of Overeem appeared very much in doubt, after the 31 year-old-fighter was released from Strikeforce following a reported dispute between his management Golden Glory and Zuffa. After several more of Overeem’s Golden Glory teammates were also dismissed from fighting under the Strikeforce and UFC banners, few would have predicted at the time that Overeem would be facing Lesnar before the year is out.
“No, it was not something I expected but I was always optimistic in a good outcome,” said Overeem. “After my Strikeforce release a lot of people in my team were getting nervous but I knew at the end that everything would work out for the best, but I have to be honest that I was never expecting to have a fight at the end of the year against Brock Lesnar.”
Prior to Zuffa’s acquisition of Strikeforce, Overeem was allowed to compete abroad for Dream and K-1, a freedom that the Dutch fighter has given up to secure a position with the world’s largest MMA promotion.
“I’ve always stated that I’m not against an exclusive contract,” Overeem noted. “But the terms have to be good and the UFC offered me a deal that I was prepared to be exclusive for them so I made that choice.”
“It’s not important anymore because I made my decision and that is to be a UFC fighter; if you make a decision like that you should let the K-1 go and don’t think about it anymore,” Overeem added, when asked if he hopes to compete for K-1 again in the future. “I hope for the sport that K-1 continues and I will always support K-1 as a sport, but now I’m a UFC fighter so my K-1 adventures are over. But I still hope one day to fight for my Japanese fans but as a UFC fighter.”
As Overeem noted, part of the appeal of his upcoming tilt with Lesnar is the apparent clash of styles, as one of the sport’s most punishing strikers will take on one of its most accomplished wrestlers.
“I think Brock is an amazing athlete in general, if you fight in pro wrestling or in MMA you have to be a good athlete,” Overeem noted about his next opponent. “I was even told that he’s a good American football player as well. So he’s very well rounded and being such an athlete makes him a talent. Becoming a champion with only a couple of wins is impressive so he’s dangerous. Although he lacks certain things in MMA, like experience for example, he makes up for it in other ways.”
“Having Brock on top of you is never easy,” said Overeem while discussing Lesnar’s renowned wrestling and ground-and-pound abilities. “But there are ways to get out of positions like that and it’s up to me to train those things and make sure I’m ready for it.”
Although Overeem (35-11) has gone undefeated in eleven fights and is coming off a unanimous decision win over Fabricio Werdum, critics have argued that the Pride vet has not been tested during the run by the world’s best. Now Overeem will have that opportunity, even if his decision to sign with the UFC was reportedly described as “crazy” by Lesnar’s jiu-jitsu coach Rodrigo “Comprido” Medeiros.
“I’m always looking for a challenge and therefore I think Brock is a great fight; stylistically and a great fight for the fans,” Overeem stated. “Two big guys that are similar in one way but also very different in other ways, makes it an intriguing and great fight if you ask me. I got a lot of criticism about me fighting no big names because they were supposed to be in the UFC; now that I’m with the UFC it’s up to me to fight them.”