Overeem adamant about fighting the best
June, 17, 2011
By Brett Okamoto
Ric Fogel for ESPN.comBring it: Alistair Overeem wants to put his oversized biceps to good use.DALLAS -- Alistair Overeem has titles -- plenty of them. At the moment, he owns belts in Strikeforce, Dream and a kickboxing title in K-1.
Titles he’s got. What he wants are challenges. And the future looks bright as far as those are concerned.
Widely considered a favorite to win the Strikeforce Grand Prix, Overeem (34-11) is poised for the most remarkable run of his career if he’s able to keep winning.
While his focus rests solely on defeating Fabricio Werdum Saturday, he paid close attention to the recent booking of a welterweight fight between UFC and Strikeforce champions Georges St. Pierre and Nick Diaz.
Whichever heavyweight emerges victorious from this Grand Prix will obviously have a lot of steam behind him -- more than likely enough to set up another crossover fight.
“[The buyout] was good news because crossover fights can happen now,” Overeem told ESPN.com. “We’ve already seen it. If people want to see me fight against the UFC champion, that is what’s going to happen. It sounds very logical to me.”
Overeem seems to have assessed the situation well.
Although UFC president Dana White has frequently referred to "hurdles" that exist in making crossover fights, co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta recently told ESPN.com that there are no concrete roadblocks from doing so.
The promotion will honor its contract with Showtime, a deal that offers the network a series of options to continue until early 2014, and therefore doesn’t want to strip it of its best assets.
That said, it won’t stop the promotion from putting together the big fights fans ask for.
“There’s nothing in the deal that prevents us from moving fighters back and forth,” Fertitta said. “But we don’t want to do anything that would hurt the Strikeforce brand.
“The major benefit of the deal is it benefits the consumer because they get the fights they want. If it makes sense and we think it’s big enough, we’ll do it. In the case of GSP and Diaz, I couldn’t go a day without getting hundreds of people on Twitter asking for that fight.”
As far as Strikeforce champions go, no path seems as laid out to a crossover fight in the UFC than Overeem’s.
The Dutch fighter says he’s prepared for the toughest string of opponents in his career.
To him, the talent level of the Grand Prix even matches what he faced in the 2005 Pride Middleweight Grand Prix, during which he fought Vitor Belfort, Igor Vovchanchyn and Mauricio Rua within a four-month period.
“I think the level of competition is the same as when I fought the top guys in the world in 2005,” Overeem said. “There were more of them in that; 16. Now there are eight. But I think the main difference is I have improved.”
While Overeem has faced some of the world’s best at other weights, match-ups with that type of competition have eluded him at heavyweight.
That ends with his fight against Werdum this weekend and, if he proves to be as good as advertised, shouldn’t be a problem moving forward.
“I wanted a [Fedor Emelianenko] fight for a long time and it didn’t happen,” Overeem said. “Werdum was injured last year so I couldn’t fight him. I’ve had these fights at heavyweight but they didn’t happen for one reason or another.
“This tournament is a way to do that and do more fights in the United States. I’m focused on that and then after, we can talk about more possibilities.”