Despite a number of enticing opportunities waiting for Alistair Overeem down the road, on the verge of one of the biggest fights of his career, the man they call “The Reem” is committed to taking things one step at a time.
Less than two weeks removed from his next contest—a Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament bout against Fabricio Werdum at Strikeforce: Overeem vs. Werdum in Dallas, Texas—Overeem, after an extended layoff from mixed martial arts competition, is feeling confident going into his upcoming match.
“I’m feeling great—I’m looking forward to fighting again. It has been almost six months, so it’s time to fight again,” said Overeem, “I’m confident because my preparations went well and I’m in a good place now.”
Overeem, who was defeated in his first bout against Werdum in May of 2006 under the Pride FC banner, claims he doesn’t get any inspiration from the fact that his upcoming bout is a rematch. Rather he is inspired by the fact that he is matched-up against such a revered contender.
“I have had a couple of rematches, but it doesn’t give me any extra motivation; my motivation lies in the fact that I want to show the world that I can beat a high-ranked opponent. Werdum is definitely a top-five heavyweight with big wins under his name, so I’m happy to show everybody that I belong with the world’s top fighters.”
Overeem said he feels his match, which will be his first in Strikeforce’s inaugural—and perhaps final—Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament, will go a long way in helping “The Reem” make his mark on the organization. Despite the fact that he holds their heavyweight championship belt, Overeem, with victories over Vitor Belfort, Paul Buentello and Brett Rogers, has only fought in Strikeforce a handful of times over the course of the last five years.
“To be honest, I haven’t accomplished much in Strikeforce yet. Although I have fought several times for the promotion, my fight with Rogers is considered my only real heavyweight fight—because my fights with Buentello and Belfort aren’t talked about anymore, because they were years ago. So, I still have to prove myself.”
Although Overeem, who currently holds championship belts as a mixed martial artist in both Strikeforce, Dream FC and as a kickboxer in K-1, is steadfast that he is committed to the task at hand—winning Strikeforce’s heavyweight tournament—he is nevertheless anticipating his future in the sport.
"[A championship in the UFC] would mean a lot, but I think that counts for every fighter in the business. You always aim for the highest—and at this point, it is the tournament. When the tournament is over, I would like to have crossover fights in the UFC and fight in the famous Octagon.”
“Why wouldn’t I be [interested in competing in the UFC]? I like to test myself against the best, so if they invite me after the tournament to fight in the UFC—then I’m more than willing to unify the belts and prove all along that the Strikeforce heavyweight division was the strongest.”
While many fans of the sport have long dreamt of seeing Overeem in the UFC, one factor that has always stood in the way of Octagon-glory for “The Reem” were the Amsterdam native’s ambitions as a kickboxer. However, with many speculating on K-1—the world’s most prominent kickboxing organization—and its future, one major obstacle may soon be out of Overeem’s path.
“At the moment, the situation with K-1 is uncertain, so let’s wait and see what K-1 and FEG are going to do—and if they are going to have a Grand Prix. I’ve always stated that if I sign an exclusive deal, the terms have to be right.”
Regardless of what the future holds for Overeem, he claims that his life is "great"—although he readily admits that he is closing in on the last leg of his mixed martial arts career.
“I’m very blessed that I can make a living out of fighting ... But, if you look at Randy Couture, you can see that he can still fight, but he’s an exception—if you ask me. I think it’s fair to say that I can have a good five years left in me. After those, we will see.”