Unlike Han Solo, it’s okay to tell Alistair Overeem the odds. Especially if they’re against him.
A veteran of 59 MMA bouts, Overeem has almost six times as much professional experience as UFC 218 opponent Francis Ngannou, yet “The Reem” is a 2-to-1 underdog on most betting sites. This disrespect from bettors and oddsmakers might make some fighters angry, but Overeem actually prefers it when he’s being counted out.
“He has a higher win rate, because I think I’ve won 75 or 80 percent, and he has one loss, so that gives him 90 percent or something like that, so based on that, whatever,” Overeem said during a scrum at Wednesday’s UFC 218 open workouts. “But I like the fight, I like to be the underdog, it’s actually a little more comfortable position and it’s going to make my victory Saturday more wonderful, more glorious.”
With wins in six of his last seven fights, the 37-year-old Overeem has kept himself at the very top of the heavyweight contenders list. His last four victories include three former UFC champions, Fabricio Werdum, Andrei Arlovski, and Junior dos Santos.
Though his recent conquests are arguably a lot stronger than what Ngannou has faced since joining the UFC in 2015 (Ngannou does own a first-round finish of Arlovski), Overeem believes that Ngannou is a highly credible opponent.
“He definitely deserves this fight,” Overeem said. “The guy looks like a beast, he’s on a nine-fight winning streak, he’s doing great, he looks awesome. You can see what he’s done with the competition. He’s got that one-punch knockout power. He definitely deserves to be here and it’s going to be a very exciting fight.”
Ngannou has made it clear that he thinks he’s next for a title shot against heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic with a win over Overeem, an opportunity that the Dutchman might have secured himself if he had been able to defeat Werdum in more definitive fashion at UFC 213 this past July.
However, Overeem insisted that he’s focused on winning regardless of whether it comes by knockout, submission, or decision.
“There’s always pressure and I always don’t give a damn,” Overeem said. “I’m gonna just cruise, do my own thing, call it stubborn, call it whatever you want. That’s just who I am.”
Overeem and Ngannou meet in the co-main event of UFC 218, which takes place at the Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Mich., on Saturday.