Dutch heavyweight, Alistair Overeem is set to face Brazil’s Fabricio Werdum for the third time this weekend in the climax of a trilogy that’s been burning since back in 2006 when Werdum submitted Overeem on the Pride FC promotion.
The two of them clashed again in 2011 at Strikeforce, back when Alistair Overeem was at the peak of his horsemeat powers and one of the most feared strikers in MMA. This time around, The ‘Reem was triumphant and took the unanimous decision.
Post his horsemeat powered domination of the UFC’s heavyweight division, and Alistair Overeem is rebuilding himself and has position in the division’s hierachy. He’s no longer quite the terrifying figure he used to cut, but he’s carving his way back to the top.
Last September saw him contest the title against Stipe Miocic at UFC 203 – he lost in the first round and has had to fight his way back past Mark Hunt in order to challenge Miocic again – which is exactly what the big man is planning to do once he’s got past Werdum.
“To me, the only thing that makes sense is fighting Stipe after this fight. After I get my hand raised, I’m going to grab that mic, and I’m going to challenge Stipe Miocic for the heavyweight championship belt,” says Overeem [currently ranked number 4 in the UFCs heavyweight roster]. Werdum [ranked number 2] won’t be a pushover though, and Overeem is well aware of that and concedes that the Werdum he previously faced is not the same opponent standing between he and Stipe.
“You study, but those fights happened a long time ago. Fabricio has done a remarkable job of improving himself since the first and the second fight. He’s constantly improving. That’s something you have to respect, like it or not. But, at the same time, we’re improving as well. I think analyzing is part of it, but also, self-improvement is part of it. You’ve got to keep working yourself.”
Meanwhile, Fabricio Werdum also has his sites set on a rematch with Stipe, who swiftly put an end to his reign as champion in front of a home crowd in Brazil at UFC 198.
Werdum recalls, “With the Stipe Miocic fight, I was very emotional. I was very excited. It was in Brazil, in a stadium, 45,000 people were there. I lost my focus. I lost it. I had five rounds to beat him, and I went out there like a crazy. I respect Stipe Miocic, for sure, but that time in the fight I didn’t see what happened. I ran in and he just countered, just touched my chin. Very smart, too. Maybe in the next one, there’ll be a big difference. I want to be patient. Because five rounds is a lot, 25 minutes. And he knocked me out in two minutes, I don’t know, but it was very quick. Why did I go out there like a crazy?”
Werdum agrees with Overeem that he has evolved as a fighter since their previous battles, and says, “My opinion, my feeling is that I’ve changed a lot,” Werdum said. “The first time, I knew just jiu-jitsu. But now, I train muay Thai. I think I’m a very complete guy today. He’s very smart when he fights, but I don’t think he changed his game in everything. Like, a complete difference. He changed a little bit because he has a lot of experience, that’s it.”
UFC 213 takes place on July 08th at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.