Things didn’t go too well for Alistair Overeem in his initial attempt to win his first-ever title under the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) banner, losing to current Heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic at UFC 203 via first-round knockout.
Two impressive wins over Mark Hunt and Fabricio Werdum later, and Overeem is knocking on the door of another shot at gold, as he revealed during a recent appearance on The MMA Hour. Should he defeat Francis Ngannou at UFC 218 on Dec. 2, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan, he was told he’ll get the next shot at the 265-pound strap.
Still, “The Reem” says his No. 1 ranking doesn’t mean he’s opposed to staying busy in the interim, as taking a break now doesn’t fit his schedule, seeing as he is now entering the final stages of his combat sports career.
“I’m ranked No. 1 and I would be eligible to fight for the title now, but I also stated that If I need to run through someone else before then, we will do that,” said Overeem.
“I’m a fighter and I like to be active. There are some fighters that don’t fight for a year or year and half and I just need to get in there. We also need to realize that I am 37 years old and this is the final stretch of my career, a couple of years left. So I want to stay active after 20 years fighting, you don’t want to have breaks,” he said.
Overeem doesn’t think a loss to Ngannou means it’s the end of his championship road but admits that after more than two decades of fighting, the window is getting shorter and shorter.
Plus, being lucky enough to avoid any major injuries throughout his extensive career, one that has seen him earn titles in both mixed martial arts (MMA) and kickboxing, “The Reem” wants to maintain his healthy body now that he is older while avoiding the pitfalls that other not-so-lucky aging fight veterans couldn’t dodge.
“Last crack, never say never. Again, I love what I do. But as you get older, you notice there are more things in life. However, my motivation is still super-high and we are still winning our fights,” he added. “But you have to be realistic, too, and you don’t want to end up doing too much damage to your body, too, as there is life after sports. I’ve taken very good care of my body to this point and have been injury free. So let’s keep it that way. You look at ‘Big Nog,’ I ran into him in Japan, and he had 19 or 20 fight-related surgeries, that’s a lot.”
Stipe, meanwhile, isn’t keen on returning to action until he irons out the details on a new contract, which gives Overeem and Ngannou time to rest up after they do the dance in “Motor City.”