Say this for former Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem - he isn't lacking in confidence. A 6' 5" mountain of a man, the Dutch striker claims not to be intimidated in the least by the bright lights of the UFC. He will step into the Octagon for the first time, he at least admits that will be a change. But he's faced pressure, scrutiny, and world class opponents in the past. And he has a message for fans tuning in to next weekend's UFC 141 showdown with Brock Lesnar: don't blink.
"I'm prepared for the five rounds, I've been doing the five rounds forever now it seems. But looking at myself, the type of fighter that I am, looking at Brock, the type of fighter he is, looking at both our characters, we're aggressive," Overeem said during a media conference call. "We're not the type of guys who back up. We're fighters, we want to finish fights. And yes, I'm going to be doing that December 30, I expect him to be doing that so I don't see really going past the first or the second round. The second round maximum."
That's a lot of swagger for a man whose training camp has been shrouded in controversy and no small amount of mystery. Overeem was coy about who exactly he was training with to prepare for Lesnar's wrestling and top control (internet reports point to wrestler Jared Rosholt). Maintaining secrecy, however, seems to be the least of Overeem's worries. Prior to the fight, the sport's top striker dealt with an overseas training camp switcheroo, his mother's serious illness, and a missed drug screening that ended with a trip to the United Kingdom to pee in a bottle.
While Lesnar will no doubt attempt to turn the fight into a wrestling match, Overeem has his own set of skills that could make approaching him for a takedown a less than enviable task. A former K-1 champion, Overeem sees the tools he carefully honed in the world of kickboxing as applicable to MMA as well.
"Basically K-1 is only striking so you're only training striking. You're not training wrestling and the whole submission, ground and pound thing. But I did that also because I didn't want to lose it and in between I had some MMA fights," Overeem said. "I actually pulled some good work off in my MMA game, as well, upgrading it at the same time. But the main thing at the time was stand up the striking. It really helped me and really improved me, really improved my timing, power shots, everything...and that brought me to victory and the techniques that I got in K-1, they work in MMA."
For Overeem, a win over Brock is just the first step towards achieving a dream. While he goes through the routine and says the right things, making clear he isn't overlooking Lesnar, you can hear the excitement in his voice when he discusses a potential bout with Junior dos Santos, the current UFC heavyweight champion. The two men are both standup artists and that's a fight right in Overeem's wheelhouse - not just a great stylistic opponent, but a chance to achieve something no one else has.
"Well, the UFC is the biggest promotion out there today and the biggest by far. They have the best stacked heavyweight division. This UFC title is the thing that's missing in my collection," Overeem said. "Basically I've cleaned up everything outside of the UFC. I went to the K-1 and got the K-1 title which already was a strong achievement which I'm very proud of. (The) UFC title is missing. That's the only thing left for me to achieve."