From Strikeforce and DREAM gold to appearing in LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It” video and defeating WWE star Brock Lesnar, heavyweight Alistair Overeem has had quite the career.
“The Demolition Man” returns this Saturday in the main event of UFC Vegas 18, where he’ll look to extend his win streak to three when he takes on former Bellator champ Alexander Volkov. At 40, Overeem (47-18, 1NC) knows this is his last run at the title. But despite that, the Dutch fighter isn’t feeling any added pressure as he approaches the end of his storied career.
“Not really. Listen, I’m enjoying myself. I’m enjoying the walkout, the fight, and everything that comes with it,” Overeem said during a virtual media day ahead of his headlining fight this weekend. “So there’s not really pressure. And I think that pressure doesn’t really improve your performance.”
Of course, with fighting in general, the pressure is always “kind of there,” Overeem added. “But I’m just enjoying it.
It seems like just yesterday to some of us, but it has now been close to a decade since Alistair Overeem arrived in the UFC, in a heavily publicized match-up with Brock Lesnar. Few UFC debuts have had the same sort of impact in the years that have passed, even with all the asterisks (Overeem failed to provide adequate samples for out-of-competition drug testing the NSAC required for the fight, and months after the Lesnar fight failed a drug test that saw him yanked from a planned bout with Junior Dos Santos).
One recent UFC debut that lived up to the hype? “Iron” Michael Chandler’s at UFC 257. The multi-time Bellator champ knocked out Dan Hooker to mark his arrival in the UFC. Overeem, however, feels there’s no comparison between the two debuts.
His own fight with Lesnar, the heavyweight told Cageside Press, was “definitely better than Michael Chandler. All respect to Mike on his performance, but I don’t think you can compare those two fights, right? Alistair vs. Brock Lesnar, 2011 or Michael Chandler vs. Dan Hooker. I don’t think you can make a comparison between those two.”
When it comes to the Lesnar fight, still one of Overeem’s most memorable in the UFC, “there was a lot of things going on,” noted Overeem. “It was crazy, I came off the [Fabricio] Werdum win and before that, the K-1 grand prix win, and the DREAM win, the DREAM title win. It was a very hectic time. A lot of moving parts,” he recalled. The fight with Werdum had come in Strikeforce, part of that promotion’s heavyweight grand prix. Overeem eventually withdrew from the tournament, moving on to the UFC after Strikeforce was swallowed up by Zuffa, the UFC’s parent company.
“I was moving to the states, fans everywhere, I couldn’t walk normally in Vegas, I got just chased by fans,” Overeem continued. “I’m actually happy that it’s not as hectic anymore, it’s kind of like a little more calm and soothing.”
Alistair Overeem faces Alexander Volkov in the main event of UFC Vegas 18 (UFC Fight Night 184) this Saturday, February 6 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, NV.