It has been nothing but a dream for Alistair Overeem over the past year.
“The Reem” kick-started 2011 a month early, claiming the K-1 World Grand Prix by winning three fights in one nine in December. He followed that up with a 19-second knockout over Todd Duffee on New Year’s Eve.
Overeem went on to compete in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, defeating Fabricio Werdum by decision.
And, while he was forced to pull out from the tournament, it may not be all that unfortunate after all, as Overeem signed with the UFC on Tuesday and will meet former heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar on December 30 at UFC 141.
For Overeem, change has become just a normal part of his MMA career.
“I actually had a lot of people ask me that (in January, about being in the UFC), and I said, ‘Well, I’m under contract, so I don’t see that happening.'” Overeem said. “The Strikeforce GP was going to be the main priority. But things changed. Last year that was also the case. I fought Brett Rogers and after I was supposed to fight Fedor (Emelianenko), but he declined, and that actually forced me to go into the K-1 and I won that belt. So I’m OK with change.”
Upon discussing his contract with the UFC, Overeem was offered the chance to face the heavyweight champion – either Cain Velasquez or Junior dos Santos – next. But, the fighter inside Overeem couldn’t wait that long.
“I think this is big news and a big development,” said Overeem, of signing with the UFC and facing Lesnar. “It’s one of those dream match ups – you have two big guys, one of them specializes in wrestling, one specializes in striking, and everybody wants to see it. There was a lot spoken about this dream match up in the past, but it couldn’t materialize because I wasn’t in the UFC, but now that I am, anything is possible. I already received a lot of emails and messages from people who congratulated me; they’re happy I joined, and they’re very happy with this match up.”
Over the last four years, the 31-year-old native of the Netherlands is unbeaten, posting a 10-0 mark with one no-contest coming against Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic in 2008. He has three submission and three KO or TKO wins since that fight.
Entering the UFC, though, means Overeem will be facing the best of the best each time out, something he looks forward to.
“I did always expect myself to get into the UFC at one point in my career,” Overeem said. “I didn’t know when that was gonna be, but I did always see myself in the UFC at some time.
“You want to keep track of your competition, so of course I watched the UFC heavyweight division very closely to see who was in there and what they were doing. They’re strong, big guys and I truly believe they belong at the top of the world, so it does post a challenge and I definitely need to step up my game. You have the wrestling guys in the UFC, and the big guys, but lately, especially with dos Santos and Velasquez, they’re mixing it up with striking really well.”
For now though, Overeem will focus solely on Lesnar and his skill set.
“He’s a very strong, very dangerous, and very explosive heavyweight,” Overeem said. “I think he’s kind of unique in the way he operates and fights, and there are some weaknesses in his game, but I think everybody has weaknesses. Overall, I see him as a very dangerous heavyweight.”