B/R Exclusive: Valentijn Overeem on Brock Lesnar, Junior Dos Santos and Alistair
Alistair Overeem may have made the most impressive debut in UFC history.
His one-round shellacking of former heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar made Overeem an instant superstar in the United States. The knockout also netted him an upcoming heavyweight championship fight with Junior dos Santos.
Not surprisingly, one of his Alistair’s biggest supporters is his brother, former Strikeforce and Pride fighter Valentijn Overeem.
“It’s a big win for him and for the family,” the elder Overeem said to Bleacher Report's Gary Herman about Alistair’s victory. “I am ecstatic.”
Prior to the Lesnar fight, Alistair only fought two times in the United States since becoming a heavyweight. His first fight was another one-round dismantling. That time, he dominated Brett Rogers.
After Rogers, he won a lackluster decision over Fabricio Werdum.
“In the Fabricio Werdum fight, I don’t think Alistair’s skills came out the way they should have and the way he trained for,” Valentijn said.
With Werdum having no other way to get the fight to the ground, the noted jiu-jitsu specialist flopped to his back multiple times to get Overeem to step into a ground battle. Overeem was too smart for the tactic.
Lesnar took the opposite approach. He tried to stand and bang with the K-1 champion, which turned out to be a bad strategy. Overeem knocked him out in the first round.
Now, Overeem prepares for the biggest fight in his career—a battle with Dos Santos. Dos Santos is undefeated over eight fights since joining the UFC in 2008.
“It’s interesting,” Valentijn said, when asked to break down the fight. “Dos Santos prefers stand-up. Alistair prefers stand-up. But then again, you never know. One of them could come right out of the box and take the other one down.
“It could go either way. I think it’s going to be a very interesting fight for the fans and for the UFC.”
Alistair has recently had a few public situations regarding his training regimen. First, he had a very acrimonious split with Golden Glory, which has ended up in court. He also took off from his new training facility, Xtreme Couture, just weeks before the Lesnar fight.
However, one part of his camp that has remained the same is Valentijn’s presence.
“We’ll have to change Alistair’s game plan,” Valentijn said, about getting ready for Dos Santos. “Obviously, he is a different fighter than Brock. We’re going to the table, draw a plan and work it out.”
Also a professional fighter, Valentijn has suffered a few losses as of late. He is 3-3 over his past six fights, and his last fight did not go very well for the former Pride veteran. He was defeated in just over two minutes by relative unknown Chad Griggs.
“A couple of years ago, I screwed up my elbow,” Valentijn said, inferring that the injury was affecting his career. “It’s been bothering me for some quite some time. After my last loss in Strikeforce, it was really time to take care of it.
“It handicapped me so much in my preparation. I don’t want to screw up fights because I’m not able to train.”
Valentijn had the surgery, and now he hopes for one more shot.
“I’m getting ready again—hopefully for the UFC,” Overeem said. “If I lose, I want to be 100 percent and lose. I want to be convinced that my opponent is a better fighter than I am.”
As Valentijn waits to get his own career on track, he will continue to support his younger brother. That is not very hard for him.
“I don’t think I could find the words to say how proud I am,” Valentijn said.
As for who will emerge UFC heavyweight champion when the two top strikers square off—likely this summer?
“I hope that my brother wins, of course.”
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