It may have been one of the biggest fight announcements in UFC history when the news broke that former Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem would be facing former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar on Dec. 30 at UFC 141.
Overeem’s arrival in the UFC is not unexpected, but still a huge signing as the K-1 Grand Prix champion finally makes his Octagon debut.
Originally, Overeem was cut from Strikeforce due to contractual issues between his management at Team Golden Glory and the bosses at Zuffa. Cooler heads ultimately prevailed and, according to Golden Glory leader Bas Boon, once the talks began the deal worked out without much of a problem.
“It took patience and negotiating in good faith. I must admit that it went more smoothly then I expected,” Boon told MMAWeekly.com on Tuesday. “We at Golden Glory are excited and Alistair Overeem has finally got his chance to become the UFC champion.”
Now that all the paperwork is signed and Overeem is officially a UFC fighter the next business at hand becomes the preparation for his showdown with Lesnar later this year.
The bout will be a five-round main event fight with a shot at the UFC heavyweight title on the line. Expectations are already lofty for what this fight could mean to the heavyweight division, and Boon is expecting even bigger things.
“Alistair Overeem against Brock Lesnar will be fireworks and it will be the best PPV fight in the history of the UFC,” he predicted.
The fight between Overeem and Lesnar will be a big fight undoubtedly, but the former Strikeforce champion has said in several interviews that he was actually offered a shot at the UFC heavyweight title on day one, but he didn’t want to delay his debut and chose to fight Lesnar instead.
The decision could be risky, but Overeem’s longtime trainer Martijn De Jong from Team Golden Glory says it’s just the first step before he claims the UFC heavyweight title as his own.
“Alistair fights anybody on any day. We were not disappointed at all that we didn’t get a title fight right away,” De Jong said. “When the time is right, he will get that title shot and he will take that belt. You can call him the belt collector.”
If Overeem is able to win the UFC heavyweight title he will add that to his current stable o gold which includes the K-1 Grand Prix title, the Strikeforce heavyweight title, and Dream heavyweight belt.
To prepare for Lesnar, Overeem is currently putting together his training camp and will travel home to Holland soon to begin the construction. Overeem had mentioned training in Los Angeles, and his manager Bas Boon revealed to MMAWeekly.com that plans are in place for Golden Glory to host a team in California.
“We are opening a Golden Glory camp in California,” he stated.
De Jong says it doesn’t really matter where Overeem trains at, they will make sure he has the best coaching and training partners he needs to get ready for his showdown with Lesnar.
“Alistair will be training with all the guys from Team Golden Glory with potentially flying in some heavyweight wrestlers for our camp as well,” said De Jong. “We can set up a camp anywhere in the world: Holland, Thailand, or the U.S. We will discuss this with the team as soon as he comes back to Holland.”
The addition of heavyweight wrestlers will answer some of the questions surrounding Overeem dealing with Lesnar’s tremendous grappling pedigree as a former NCAA champion.
But his trainer believes that Overeem already possesses the skills to beat Lesnar at his own game, and if he thinks that it’s going to be good to get the Dutch wrecking machine to the ground, he’s got another thing coming.
“Alistair is a very well rounded fighter. He is not only a good striker, but also holds a great submission and wrestling game. He was the former ADCC European Champion. Besides that, I can’t even remember when he got taken down in one of his fights?” De Jong stated.
“However, we will have a game plan ready for Brock and I can personally tell you that this is going to be an amazing fight; 2011 will go out with a bang!”
Overeem will travel home soon and then begin his preparation for Brock Lesnar and his UFC debut to close out the year at UFC 141 on Dec. 30 in Las Vegas.