Alistair Overeem isn’t so sure he’d still be competing had things gone differently against Stipe Miocic a few years back.
Washington, D.C. — The UFC on ESPN 7 main event is a big one, pun fully intended. For Jarzinho Rozenstruik, Washington looks to be a proving ground — one where he’ll get a big step up in competition in the form of Alistair Overeem.
For ‘The Reem,’ a longtime veteran of mixed martial arts, it’s an opportunity to inch closer to another shot at gold. Overeem (45-17, 1NC) has been a champion nearly everywhere he’s competed over the years, including Dream, Strikeforce, and K-1. UFC gold, however, has eluded him thus far. His lone UFC title fight saw him knocked out in the opening round by Stipe Miocic.
That was 2016. Overeem is now 39, entering what is likely to be the twilight of his career. Whether he’d still be competing had he defeated Miocic at UFC 203 is a valid question, one that even Overeem struggled to answer.
“They say everything happens for a reason, right? I don’t really like that saying, but yeah, I don’t know,” he told Cageside Press Thursday at the UFC on ESPN 7 media day. “I think one of the reasons for my longevity— okay, I take good care of my body, my diet and blah blah blah. I see it as a big adventure, and it is a big adventure. I was made for the adventure. But also, I’m hunting something.”
That something, of course, is the title. The last piece of the puzzle that is Overeem’s grand career. “You can see with some other fighters who already achieved it, then kind of the drive goes away. So yeah, maybe it is because I have no have UFC gold yet that I’m still going for it.”
When asked whether that was, perhaps, what has happened to Conor McGregor, Overeem countered with a few other examples. “Maybe Ronda Rousey. Maybe with Luke Rockhold. All the fighters that have kind of stepped away from fighting after they’ve become champion and then lost the belt. Because you’ve already achieved it.”
Miesha Tate was another example, suggested Overeem.
Jairzinho Rozenstruik was not Overeem’s originally scheduled opponent at UFC DC, of course. That would be Walt Harris, who was forced to withdraw from the fight in the wake of the disappearance of his stepdaughter, Aniah Blanchard, in October. Tragically, the investigation that ensued determined Blanchard had been abducted and murdered by a convicted felon, facing even more kidnapping-related charges but out on bond.
Overeem expressed his sympathy for Harris in what is nothing short of a horrific situation. And ‘The Reem’ is of course a father himself. But ultimately, aside from his opponent, little changed for the Dutch fighter himself.
“It changed my focus in the sense that my opponent changed. Of course, you follow the news,” he said. “But let’s not forget, that’s not my child, that’s not my relative. It’s a little bit further away from me. But still you’re like ‘hey, shit, this stuff really happens.’ I went into the statistics, that stuff happens kind of often, too.”
“It’s a really bad thing. I don’t know how to fix that,” he finished.
Watch the full UFC on ESPN 7 media day press scrum with Alistair Overeem above!