When decorated combat sports veteran Alistair Overeem steps into the Octagon against heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic in the main event of Saturday night’s (September 10, 2016) UFC 203 from Cleveland, he’ll finally fulfill the promise that essentially anointed him a UFC title contender since he was first signed to the promotion to face Brock Lesnar at UFC 141 five years ago in December 2011.
But the former Strikeforce, DREAM, and K-1 World Grand Prix champion ran into some significant bumps in the road when he failed a surprise drug test for steroids before his scheduled heavyweight title bout with then-champion Junior dos Santos at May 2012’s UFC 146 and then lost his next two bouts to Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva and Travis Browne by knockout in bouts he was winning.
“The Reem” has since rebounded after a camp change to Albuquerque, New Mexico’s Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA, where he trains with former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, among others, and it’s translated well into an impressive four-fight streak where he’s knocked out three of his opponents including dos Santos and fellow former champion Andrei Arlovski. The hot run has Overeem feeling in the best shape he ever has in his impressive 56-fight mixed martial arts career, but he doesn’t believe current champ Miocic is in similar form heading into hi first title defense from his hometown.
Criticizing the champion during a media scrum at today’s UFC 203 Open Workouts (via UFC.com), Overeem described a scene where Miocic, who won the belt with a earth-shaking first round knockout of Fabricio Werdum this May, has been living it up a bit too much since he won the gold:
“I went to UFC 200 – a great event in Vegas – and I didn’t go to any pool parties. I was training every day. Stipe was going to different parties. He’s wearing different clothes and acting crazy and having a drink in his hands.”
“While he was celebrating I was working. I was training hard. My life has been dedicated for the last two and a half years and the last six months I’ve definitely put on a couple notches more.”
Overeem has the rare chance to add the most important championship piece to his nearly-full mantle, and he acknowledged there is much on the line in Cleveland. But the 36-year-old fighter said his extensive experience will help him overcome any nerves to capitalize on his perceived position as the most fervent contender at 265 pounds:
“There is definitely that extra tingling of nerves,” he said. “Sometimes you don’t have nerves and sometimes you have a little bit of nerves. But we’ve been there. This is going to be my 87th fight. We’ve been here and done that. I use that tension and those nerves to my advantage.
“I am the most hungry fighter in my weight division.”