UFC Vegas 9: Alistair Overeem on Lesnar Returning, Jones Moving Up, and Derrick Lewis

Entering into UFC Vegas 9, Alistair Overeem (46-18, 1NC) knows he’s on the final run of his career. One last sprint to the title for an athlete who has won gold wherever he has competed over the years — except in the UFC.

This weekend, he goes up against one of the promotion’s up-and-comers in Augusto Sakai. It’s the third straight fight of that nature for “The Demolition Man,” who was knocked out in the dying seconds of his main event fight with Jairzinho Rozenstruik at UFC DC last December, then bounced back opposite Walt Harris earlier this year.

All that young blood clearly signals a changing of the guard in the UFC’s heaviest weight class. But there is a bigger name on the horizon: Jon Jones. Overeem once moved from light heavyweight to heavyweight himself, so he can no doubt relate to the transition “Bones” is about to make. He also trained with the promotion’s former light heavyweight champion.

“I think he’s a great addition to the heavyweight division. I’m excited,” he told Cageside Press about Jones’ move on Thursday. “Fresh blood. I trained with him, he’s very capable.”

Overeem admitted that he’s “very excited about that development.” Yet as exciting as Jones pending debut as a heavyweight may be, it has the potential the overshadow the work of fighters like Overeem. Not to mention leave them waiting in the wings, if Jones jumps straight to a title shot against the winner of Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou 2. That’s the fight that the UFC has currently penciled in as the next for heavyweight champ Miocic.

“I’m not too worried about that,” Overeem responded regarding that notion. “I just focus on the task at hand. I just need to focus on winning my fights.”

There’s another shadow looming over the heavyweight division at the moment. One of Overeem’s former opponents, ex-UFC and WWE champion Brock Lesnar. “The Beast” is currently a free agent, with his WWE contract expiring.

“As far as Brock Lesnar, I don’t really think he’s coming back,” opined Overeem at this week’s UFC Vegas 9 media day. Before admitting “I was wrong the last time though.”

There’s one other heavyweight that Overeem has been linked to of late. Derrick Lewis, who has essentially accused the Dutch fighter of ducking him. That’s a notion Overeem put to bed Thursday.

“I didn’t get any offer, because I would take that fight. Why would I not take Derrick Lewis?” he questioned. “So he’s lying. Or he’s misinformed. One of the two.”

This older and wiser Overeem, who recently hit forty, is over twenty years into his career at this point. Taking on a younger, lesser known but no less motivated fighter in August Sakai.

Overeem admitted that he wasn’t too up-to-date on his opponent, but that doesn’t make the fight less appealing to him. “Not too familiar, but [he’s an] up and coming guy. We need fresh blood, and he’s one of those fresh guys. Young guys coming up, tough, willing to fight anybody, any time. I’m actually excited about fighting a prospect, new blood.”

And with a win, he’ll be closer to that title goal. Just don’t expect him to stick around, dragging things on until he finally gets another crack at the belt. Instead, Overeem suggested that he’s “probably going to do a couple more fights, and then it is what it is.” Belt or no belt.

Watch the full UFC Vegas 9 media day press scrum with Alistair Overeem above. The event takes place this Saturday, September 5 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, NV, airing live on ESPN+ (TSN in Canada).