Alistair Overeem heard all of the critics and comments in the days and weeks following his first-round knockout loss to Cleveland’s Stipe Miocic in a UFC heavyweight championship fight at Quicken Loans Arena last September.
And Overeem used those questions about his future in the mixed martial arts as fuel in the lead up to his fight against Mark Hunt at UFC 209 in Paradise, Nevada, Saturday night, which he ended with a third-round knockout thanks to a knee to the head.
“People are always writing me off,” Overeem said. “What can I say? What can I say? Maybe, it has to do with my longevity. It’s been 24 years of training and competing, but I don’t know. I just love fighting. I love the UFC.
“The UFC is truly the best promotion I’ve ever fought for, and I’ve had a couple in those 24 years. They do a great job of promoting us, the fighters, but also, promoting the sport worldwide in a proper way. Yeah, I’m just very happy to be a part of it.”
Throughout the fight, Overeem was the more active and accurate fighter, landing 59 of his 76 overall strikes, 55 of which were considered significant, according to FightMetric, while Hunt landed only 29 punches, kicks and knees during the duration of the bout.
After absorbing a brutal elbow in the clinch early in the third round, Overeem disengaged from the dirty boxing in the middle of The Octagon, turned his back to Hunt, ran away and regrouped before again locking up with his opponent. Then, Overeem got Hunt against the cage where the Dutchman, known for his kickboxing prowess, began peppering his opponent with knees to the body.
A final knee to the head from Overeem dropped Hunt and the referee called a stop to the bout at the 3:17 mark of the third round.
“I remember from my first fight with Mark, the guy is durable, but above all, he’s very strong,” Overeem said. “He has that one-punch knockout power, so that’s something that’s constantly in your mind. Before you know it, you’re waking up in the locker room and it’s done. That’s something you’ve got to be careful about, and that means, it’s going to stop your attack, your offensive.”
The No. 3 ranked heavyweight in the UFC, Overeem improved to 41-15-0 with one no contest after the 21st knockout win of his nearly two-decade MMA career, while Hunt fell to 12-11-1 overall and has now lost three of his last six fights, all by knockout.
“I felt good,” Overeem said. “I felt very confident about the training, about the work I put in. After the Stipe loss, I didn’t take any time off. I just went straight back to the gym, identified several things that we needed to improve and just started building from there.
“I definitely put in the hours. I wanted some additional time to prepare because the UFC wanted me to fight already in December, but I said, ‘No. I need a little bit more time.’ That’s important. Every fight is a test in the UFC. It’s not just a fight. It’s life or death. That’s how I treat it. I’m very proud for the team, the people I have around me. I’m very proud with the work that I put in.”
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