CLEVELAND -- Top contender Alistair Overeem believes UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic has hit the banquet circuit a little bit too hard after defeating former titlist Fabricio Werdum in the main event of UFC 198 on May 14.
And Overeem, the 36-year old native of Holland, plans on making Miocic pay for enjoying life outside of The Octagon.
“You keep track of things and it’s not difficult to keep track of things,” Overeem said. “You see things, social-media pictures. For example, I went to UFC 200, a great event in Vegas. I didn’t go to any pool parties. I was training every day. I was doing my appearances, my obligations, but I was training.
“Stipe was going to different parties. You could see that. You could see that on his clothes. He’s wearing different clothes. He’s at different party events. He’s acting crazy, having a drink in his hand. He has been celebrating his victory, and you know what, who can blame him?
“He became the champion in record time, but while he was celebrating, I was working. I was training hard, and my life has been dedicated for the last two-and-a-half years. The last six months, I’ve definitely put on a couple notches more. We’re ready. We’re going to get that belt on Saturday.”
After his open workout Wednesday, Overeem says he is entering the main event of UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena tonight as the hungriest fighter in the heavyweight division.
“Well, I predict a second or third-round knockout,” Overeem said. “It all depends a little bit on him too because it takes two to tango. Judging his nature, it’s not going to take that long, but you never know. There’s an X-factor involved. He can go away. He can evade. He can become a different Stipe all of a sudden, but otherwise, I don’t see it lasting two or three rounds.”
Miocic made a name for himself when he won the UFC heavyweight championship with a first-round knockout of the former champion, Werdum, in the main event of UFC 198 at the Arena Atletico Paranaense in Curitiba, Brazil.
Miocic finished the fight after delivering a right hand to Werdum’s jaw. The former champion was chasing Miocic around the outer rim of The Octagon, and left his chin exposed. Despite backing away from Werdum’s pursuit, Miocic threw a powerful right hand that floored the one-time titlist.
“I expect him to definitely come with his full arsenal,” Overeem said. “He has his striking. He has his wrestling base. He’s a very dominant fighter. He’s got power, but everyone at heavyweight has power though, so we have to be ready for everything. We’ve got to be ready for his strikes, for his counterstrikes. We’ve got to be ready for his wrestling. Training camp was great. I’m feeling very confident.
“Of course, I expect him to do everything. He’s going to do everything because it is everything. It’s MMA, mixed martial arts, UFC. Everything is allowed, and you need to use everything at your disposal to beat your opponents, so I expect him to come out with a surprise. If he doesn’t, he’s going to be stupid.”
Miocic is well aware of the fact that Overeem is on a four-fight winning streak with wins over former UFC champions in Andre Arlovski and Junior dos Santos. Three of those four victories have come via knockout or TKO in the first or second rounds of competition.
Additionally, Overeem, a former K-1 World Grand Prix Kickboxing Champion and former Strikeforce and DREAM heavyweight titlist, has defeated each of the last two fighters to get the best of Miocic, dos Santos and Stefan Struve.
With wins over six former UFC champions, Overeem is planning on adding No. 7 to his resume tonight.
“What sets me apart is my ability to finish off opponents of all calibers, and there’s been many of them,” Overeem said. “I’ve fought easy guys, but there’s been so many tough guys. I always put them away easy, and I think that’s one of my skills.
“I put people away easy. In my last couple fights, I didn’t even get hit barely, didn’t get scratched. I don’t know if Stipe’s going to be that fight. I never know that beforehand, but whatever. I’m ready. I’m here to fight. If it’s going to be a fight, if it’s going to be a walk-over, I’m ready for all scenarios.”