Alistair Overeem’s career renaissance could lead him to another UFC title shot.
“The Reem” told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour that he has been told he’ll receive a heavyweight title opportunity if he beats Francis Ngannou at UFC 218 on Dec. 2 in Detroit. Overeem said he didn’t necessarily need to be informed of that, since he’s already ranked No. 1 among contenders in the UFC rankings.
“I didn’t need to be — logical thinking,” Overeem said. “I’m ranked No. 1 now, so the way [I see it], I would be eligible to fight for the belt now, but I also stated that in previous interviews if I need to run through somebody else before, then we’re gonna do that. That is what it is right now. Again, I’m a fighter, I like to be active. To me, that is the best. Some fighters, they are not fighting for a year or a year and a half. I just need to get back in there every four or five months.”
Overeem (43-15, 1 NC) defeated Fabricio Werdum by majority decision at UFC 213 in July, picking up his second straight victory. In all, Overeem has won six of his last seven fights. The lone loss came against heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic at UFC 203 in September 2016. In that bout against Miocic, Overeem dropped the champion in the first round, but was finished before the conclusion of the five minutes.
Between 2013 and 2014, Overeem had lost three of four and was considered on the downside of his career, but he has turned things around. At 37 years old, the Netherlands native acknowledges this is most likely his last big run in MMA — the “final stretch,” he said.
“Last crack, never say never,” Overeem said. “Again, I love what I do, right? But you notice you’re getting older and you notice there’s more things in life. However, motivation is still super high and we’re still winning our fights. But you have to be realistic, too. You don’t want to end up with too much damage to your body, because there’s life after the sport.”
Overeem has been a professional MMA fighter since 1999. He’s fought for various promotions all over the world, including Pride, Dream, Strikeforce, Rings, K-1 (kickboxing and MMA) and now the UFC. He said he ran into fellow heavyweight luminary Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in Japan last month during the UFC fight week there and “Big Nog” said he’s had 19 or 20 fight-related surgeries and Overeem doesn’t want that to be his future, he said.
On the other side of the Octagon from him in December will be the top prospect Ngannou. The Cameroon native, who came to live in Las Vegas from France, is 5-0 in the UFC with all his victories coming by way of stoppage. He has heavy hands and Overeem knows this won’t be an easy road to another title shot.
“This is like a legit guy,” Overeem said. “You can see he’s strong as an ox. He’s motivated. He’s willing to fight. I will be kind of his first big name test. I’m very motivated as well. And it’s gonna be a great fight — great matchup.”
But “The Reem” is confident. He has the experience edge by a great deal and he believes he is primed for perhaps his final chance at the UFC title, which he has never won.
“It’s gonna be my job, my team’s job to stop him and to show who is No. 1 — literally who’s No. 1, because I’m ranked No. 1,” Overeem said. “And then solidify my shot for the title against Stipe.”