Alistair Overeem made an emphatic return to the U.S. last night, as the Strikeforce heavyweight champion needed only 3:40 to destroy Brett Rogers and successfully defend his championship.
Overeem had been absent from US MMA competition since he won the Strikeforce belt in 2007; a fact that, coupled with his impressive size gain, has led many to come to the conclusion that Overeem competed overseas for so long so that he could augment his training with anabolic steroid use and not come under the scrutiny of more strict American testing. Overeem addressed the rumors about his weight gain and apparent reluctance to fight in the US during the Strikeforce: Heavy Artillery post-fight press conference.
“For me it was just a matter of time,” Overeem said. “Of course people are going to speculate, but it was a matter of time before I fought here, and I would just do the drug testing like everyone else. When I pass that, all the critics will be silenced.”
Because Missouri has a random drug test policy, there is no guarantee that Overeem would be tested. Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker decided to pay for testing for all fighters on the card to help squash the rumors.
“If Alistair was 215 pounds, no one would be asking those questions,” said Coker. “All these other people saying, ‘Oh, he’s on steroids,’ and this and that, it is what it is. The media put a lot of attention on it. I think we fixed the problem by drug testing everybody. We’ll get the results next week, and if there’s a problem, we’re going to let people know. It was the right thing to do because the commission is doing random testing, and I didn’t want to leave any chance for a crack of skepticism. This puts everyone in check, right? This is a real sport with real athletes. Drug testing, in certain states, is going to be necessary, and we will do it again if we have to.”
Fedor’s management firm, M-1 Global (an equally controversial figure in the world of MMA) has made such claims of Overeem in the past. Overeem staunchly denied using steroids and believes that it is his opponents and individuals with a vendetta against him that have been spreading the allegations.
“I know there are some individuals who are responsible for these allegations, and all these individuals are in some way associated with an opponent I beat or personally dislike me for some reason,” he said. “Then you’ve got the rumors spreading. But like I said, it’s people that don’t like me for some reason – of course they’re going to be against me. It’s just a matter of time. I’m going to defend my title, and I’m going to do the drug testing like everybody else. Once that’s clear, we’re done with that.
“For me, I just focus on myself,” he continued. “I’m always thinking about all aspects of the MMA game and my personal life, so that keeps me busy enough to keep me from dealing with critics all the time.”
Thanks to Mark Mayne for contributing to this article.