“A lion doesn’t concern himself with the opinion of sheep,” Alistair Overeem says as he’s surrounded by media poking him with questions about his detractors as he prepares for his UFC 156 showdown with Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva. The past year of his life has been filled with turmoil and controversy but Overeem isn’t moved by any of it. “But keep doing what you’re doing haters, I’m not losing any sleep over you.”
It’s been 13 months since Overeem sent Brock Lesnar into the arms of professional wrestling with a vicious kick to the body. The Dutch kickboxer and former K-1, Strikeforce, Dream and 2H2H champion was riding high as he punched his ticket to face then-UFC heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos at UFC 146 on May 26. However, a failed pre-fight drug test due to elevated testosterone levels forced him out of the fight and into a nine month suspension. There had long been suspicion over Overeem’s Greek God-like physique. With a physical frame that looks like it was chiseled out of granite, questions will arise as to whether it is natural or a byproduct of performance enhancing drugs. Overeem says that his body transformation from lean 205-pounder to muscle bound heavyweight was from working out and eating right. Nevertheless, the failed drug test that he says was because of a prescribed anti-inflammatory medication has left a dark cloud over his career. But he paid his debt to the UFC and will look to continue his journey to claim the UFC gold when he faces Silva on February 1.
“I can’t get sad about things that are out of my control,” he says rather dismissively about the past. Looking forward is the only thing he’s worried about. But the sting of being pulled out of a fight for the prestigious UFC heavyweight title is still present. He wanted the fight with Dos Santos so bad that he could taste it. The two most feared strikers in the heavyweight division would have surely led to a fireworks display that Overeem truly believes he would have came out of with his hand raised. Even today, without Dos Santos being the champion, he wants to smash his face for all of the inflammatory comments that the Brazilian lobbed at Overeem in interviews about his failed drug test. There was talk of Overeem facing Dos Santos in his first fight after serving his suspension but things fell through.
“Junior didn’t really want to fight me because I wanted to make that fight happen,” he says. “I tried to make that fight happen and the whole world wanted to see it. It didn’t happen because he wanted to fight Cain Velasquez instead.”
That turned out to be all bad for Dos Santos as Velasquez pummeled him for five rounds and now wears the UFC heavyweight title belt around his waist. So while the prospect of kicking Dos Santos’ teeth down his throat is appealing, a crack at that title belt sits at the top of his list.
“I want to fight the champion and get the belt because I think I’m the best fighter in the UFC,” the highly decorated fighter says. Out of the 48 professional MMA fights he’s had (36-11), the Brock Lesnar fight happened to be his first in the UFC. But he hasn’t lost in five years so he has reason to believe he’d sit at the top of the food chain. All he’s been waiting for is a chance to prove himself. “I love to fight and I want to fight the best guys in the world, that’s why I’m in the UFC.”
But first he has to get past the man they call “Bigfoot.” Silva is a mountain of a man perhaps best known for beating the great Fedor Emelianenko. Overeem won’t completely overlook Silva, but let’s just say that losing to Silva is something he finds quite laughable. He’s determined to make an example out of Silva on Saturday night. On one hand he wants to show off his improvements during his time off, on the other he’s annoyed by Silva being “fake.”
“This is what I dislike about people,” the soft spoken giant says before taking a deep breath and explaining his annoyance with Silva. “He talked crap about me but I saw Bigfoot one time and he gave me a hug, and acted fake. I don’t like those kind of people. One minute they give you a hug and the next they say that they’ve been waiting to fight me for two years. Now I can’t wait for the fight.” It’s safe to say that Overeem is overly anxious to smash some skulls and has been itching to get his fists on someone for the past year. During his time off, the Dutchman left his home country of Holland to relocate to the beautiful confines of Florida and joined forces with the Rashad Evans led Blackzilians team. The collection of African-American and Brazilian fighters welcomed Overeem with open arms and gave him something he hasn’t had in the 13 years he’s had in MMA: a sense of family.
“Usually I’m pretty skeptical when people say family and brotherhood because I’m a realist,” Overeem says about his new team. “But as far as structure, camaraderie and team spirit, it is really there. It’s a true team and a very good vibe.”
With all of the pieces falling into place, Overeem is ready to restart his hunt to complete what would be his holy trinity of championships. Crushing Silva Saturday in Las Vegas is the first step, and with UFC President Dana White stating that he’ll be next in line for a title shot with a victory, the second step will to claim what he believes to already be rightfully his.
“I want that UFC title, it belongs to me,” Overeem says with a smile. “Besides, it will look way better on me than it does on Cain.”