I hope this is eligible for the UFC section now.
If not, one of the mods can move it.
Great interview. Enjoy!
Strikeforce heavyweight champ Alistair Overeem was among the many people caught completely by surprise by this weekend's big announcement regarding the sale of his employer to its biggest industry rival.
Overeem told MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour that he was completely shocked by news that Zuffa had purchased Strikeforce, but said he has reason to be excited about what this means for the future.
"I was shocked when I read it, but I'm very excited," Overeem told Helwani. "It's a very big upset in the MMA world, and the fighting world in general. But yeah, my first thought was, I'm excited. ... It was a very big surprise to me and to everybody. The gentlemen did a very good job of keeping the big secret. I didn't see it coming. I didn't see it coming at all."
Overeem, who called in to The MMA Hour from his training camp in Thailand, said he is still preparing to face Fabricio Werdum in the Strikeforce heavyweight Grand Prix in June, and as far as he knows, "[E]verything is still on."
As for whether the sale will turn out to be a positive or negative for MMA fighters and fans, Overeem sounded an optimistic tone.
"It depends. I'm a positive guy. I see things through a positive lens. It can be really, really the best thing [that] ever happened to the sport, if it's used positive, and I see that happening. If it's used negative, then it's going to be a downfall. But I don't see that happening. I see this as a good thing, a good development, so I see the sport growing.
"We're going to have to wait and see how it works out," Overeem continued. "The fans are going to get to see the fights that are most appealing to them. I think this is what the sport needs to grow, because the sport has grown rapidly, but it's still not there yet. It still needs to grow bigger. I think [UFC president] Dana [White] wants this and I know I want this as well. We want the fights to be worldwide known. We want everybody worldwide to talk about these fights, like in the old days with Muhammad Ali and [Mike] Tyson, and we're not there yet. To get there, there's still some work to be done and I think Dana's working on that."
Overeem seemed surprise to learn that Strikeforce would now adopt the unified rules of MMA, including elbow strikes to the head of a grounded opponent, which he referred to as, "a good thing, I guess."
As for when or if fans might get to see him against some of the UFC's big names, Overeem said his only focus at the moment is on the Strikeforce GP, where he's still awaiting his first-round match-up with Fabricio Werdum.
"For me, I'm a fighter. I want to show the fans exciting fights. I want to go for the knockout. For me, I'm tied down in the Strikeforce Grand Prix. That is my objective for the moment. This is my time to show that I'm number one in this tournament. All the politics talk, I'm not a head of an MMA organization. I know leading a business like that has a lot of responsibilities, a lot of headache, so I can't answer that question for you. ...I'm happy that I'm not in their shoes. I'm happy that I have the simple life of a fighter."
And for anyone who doubts that Overeem's focus is still on winning the tournament, he offered a succinct response to Werdum's claim that he'll look to attack the champ's other arm in their rematch this June.
"He'll be unable to do that when he's sleeping on the mat with his face down" said Overeem.
Really glad to see Overeem fired up and training hard.
I hope that by this time next year, he will be fighting in the UFC.