The former Strikeforce, DREAM and K-1 heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem, defeated Walt Harris via TKO at UFC Florida this past weekend, just one day before his 40th birthday. The atmosphere at the VyStar Arena was quite unique for the fighters because of the safety measures implemented due to the coronavirus pandemic, mostly the lack of audience.
Speaking at the post-fight press conference (transcript by MMA Fighting), Overeem was asked about the first-time experience of fighting in an empty arena.
“Strange, I was fired up about it. This was fight No. 92,” he said. “It kind of reminded me of my earlier fights. I have to go all the way back to ‘97 when there were like 200 or fewer people in the audience. This was a little bit different though and I don’t know, it motivated me.
“During a pandemic, first time, so to me it was very interesting tonight,” Overeem continued. “No audience. Still you got tensions, still you’ve got the nerves going through you fight day. I don’t know but it was different. It was cool. I liked it. I enjoyed it.”
The win against Harris has made the ‘The Reem’ 3-1 in his last four fights inside the Octagon, and further secured his place in the top of the division. After many ups and downs, Overeem is still aiming for the belt, despite being aware that his career is near the end.
“We’re still hunting for the title. I would say also I’m in the last phase of my career. So those two things are a little bit on my mind. Finish the career and one more run at the title,” he explained.
“It was a big win [over Harris], now he needs to get one of these top-five guys,” Dana said. “He needs a fight in the top-five.”
Nonetheless, Dana explained that the state of the division is rather busy at the moment.
“The heavyweight division’s a little backed up right now, we gotta get Stipe [Miocic] and DC going,” he said. “Francis [Ngannou] is champing at the bit to get his next shot and deservingly so. So we’ll get things moving here soon.”
Do you think Alistair Overeem has what it takes to make a successful title run? And who do you think he should fight next?