Alistair Overeem wants to fight Fedor Emelianenko.
Even though he is set to defend his Strikeforce Heavyweight championship against Brett Rogers, Overeem continues to call out the man generally regarded as the top heavyweight in the world, Fedor Emelianenko.
“I challenged Fedor now for a year-and-a-half,” Overeem said about his upcoming Strikeforce fight, “but his management was kind of ducking me. I’d rather fight Fedor, but he declined.”
Instead, Overeem draws the last man Emelianenko fought and defeated—Brett Rogers.
On Showtime this Saturday night, Overeem will be defending his Strikeforce heavyweight championship against the 10-1 Rogers. The bout will mark the first time Overeem has defended the title in close to two-and-a-half years."
“It has been an unfortunate circumstance,” the 32-11 Overeem said. “I won the title in 2007, but there were no other opponents in Strikeforce."
“I was scheduled to fight Brett Rogers in June 2009, but my hand got infected and I had to spend some time in the hospital. After that, I had other obligations in Japan I had to take care of.”
Unfortunately for Overeem, his extended stay in Japan has forced people to speculate that he may not be a clean fighter. Over the past three years, Overeem’s fighting weight has ballooned from 205 lbs to 260 lbs.
That fact was not lost on Emelianenko’s manager, Vadim Finkelstein. He claimed that Overeem could have a difficult time passing a drug test.
“He (Overeem) has nothing to offer for Fedor Emelianenko, except being a steroid bully,” Finkelstein said when asked about a potential fight with Overeem.
He later recanted that statement and offered Overeem an apology.
“Those comments were made in a private conversation that had nothing to do with journalism and were never meant for public consumption,” Finkelstein said. “I would never accuse Alistair of anything or call him any names. I respect him as a fighter and as a person.”
Nevertheless, the damage from the first statement was done, and he only made public what many people have privately thought. Coming up in a few days, Overeem will have the opportunity to put many of the questions to rest. He will have to take a drug test prior to fighting Rogers. The results of the test will not be known until after the bout.
The drug test, however, will not be as stringent as the blood test that boxers Floyd Mayweather and Shane Mosley recently submitted to. The MMA test will be based on a urine sample as opposed to blood, but it will definitely follow the guidelines of Missouri State Athletic Commission.
The commission recently stated that they would make drug testing a “huge focus ” for the upcoming show.
Amidst all the controversy, Overeem is not worried about what people think of his physique.
“I just let people make up their own minds,” Overeem said when asked about the public’s perception. “I’m not going to give too much ‘blah blah.’ I’m just here to fight.”
The “Demolition Man” offers the following explanation for his increase in mass.
“I used to drop weight from 225 to 205, but as I grew older, it became a lot harder to drop weight,” Overeem said. “I had some losses—I think three in a row due to the weight cutting and some emotional issues. I decided it was time to leave light heavyweight for heavyweight."
“I changed everything. I changed my diet. I changed the way I trained. I changed the trainers. I had to do that because I was coming off three losses so I knew something was wrong. What you see today is a product of those changes.”
Based on the accusations of Emelianenko’s management, Overeem believes that they are protecting Emelianenko from him.
“I hope I can fight Fedor,” Overeem said, reiterating his interest in the bout. “I challenged him already for a year and if it’s not going to happen because of his management coming up with all these strange stories, let people make up their own minds."
“I am very confident that I can beat him. I think the fans would want to see that fight. Alistair Overeem, very athletic and very strong, against Fedor. People say he’s one of the best, if not the best in the world so I think it would be a great matchup. I think the people want to see it so let’s give the people what they want to see.”
In order to have any serious conversations about a potential mega-fight between Emelianenko and Overeem, Overeem first has to get past the aggressive Rogers.
All ten of Rogers’ victories have come by knockout. Only two of those fighters even made it to the second round.
“He’s a strong guy,” Overeem said of Rogers. “He’s a big guy, and he wants the fight.”
With a win in the United States, Overeem would likely remove any potential barriers to his dream matchup with Emelianenko. He is confident that will be victorious over Rogers.
“Prediction? There will be knockout. I don’t think he’s going to last the first round.”