Overeem moves on from turbulent year

Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight Alistair Overeem is ready to pick up where he left off in the cage before his rapid ascent toward the belt was temporarily derailed when an out-of-competition drug test in March showed elevated levels of testosterone.

Whether he ever repairs a public image that was tarnished by that result is of no concern to the ultra-talented Overeem.

“First of all, let me make it clear: I fight for myself. I do not fight for other people,” he said when asked whether he cares if fans think he is a cheater. “The better question is can you look yourself in the mirror, and I can. I actually have no problem with it.”

Overeem has continued to maintain his innocence, blaming the result on a Texas doctor who turned Overeem’s April hearing on the matter in front of the Nevada Athletic Commission into a circus. In the end, Overeem was denied a license to fight for the UFC title against champion Junior dos Santos and was unable to reapply for nine months.

That period expires this month and Overeem is expected to be licensed in time to fight Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva at UFC 156 on Feb. 2 at Mandalay Bay.

Overeem says the UFC gave him the option to fight the winner of dos Santos’s upcoming title defense against Cain Velasquez, but Overeem was not willing to wait.

“I knew there was going to be some backlash from everything that happened earlier this year. I am a perfectionist, but I’m also a realist,” he said. “I understand that success comes in steps, so I’m willing to take small steps in order to get to the higher steps.

“I know that I have to get through Bigfoot to get to the title shot. They offered me a title shot right away, but that would mean I would have to wait another six months. I’m a fighter. I don’t want to wait. I want to fight as much as possible.”

UFC officials don’t expect a problem with testing in advance of this fight. There is good reason. Overeem has been submitting drug test results on a monthly basis for the last four months.

The 32-year-old says that is just fine with him. He insists he has never cheated and will take all the tests that are necessary to prove it.

“That’s one of the reasons I can look myself in the mirror,” he said. “Ever since the hearing, I wanted to prove (to the UFC and NAC) that I’m a clean fighter. We send the results from an independent doctor. That’s one of the reasons we’re about to get licensed and get back on the horse. Of course, there will be terms to it, but I think they appreciate the steps I’ve been taking to show I’m a clean fighter.”

Overeem last fought in a first-round knockout of Brock Lesnar on Dec. 30, 2011, in his UFC debut, a victory that was supposed to result in a title shot before a turbulent start to 2012.

In the early-morning hours of Jan. 2, just days after beating Lesnar, Overeem was cited for misdemeanor battery in an incident involving a woman he did not know at a Wynn Las Vegas nightclub, a charge that was later dismissed after he fulfilled conditions set forth by the court.

The surprise drug test that ultimately led to Overeem’s issues with the NAC took place on the same March day that he appeared in a Las Vegas courtroom to address the battery charge. The NAC had all the fighters who attended a press conference that day promoting Overeem’s scheduled title fight against dos Santos submit to drug tests.

After learning his fate, Overeem used the time off to settle into his new Miami home. He relocated permanently from his native Holland to be closer to his team, the Blackzilians.

“For me, this was a year of change. I moved to America and that’s been a big step,” he said. “I’m not in Holland anymore and I was a guy that always went back to Holland, but that’s not home anymore. Miami is home. On the other hand, the title fight didn’t happen. But I didn’t sit still. I made the best out of it. I take the tests, I’ve been training and I can’t wait to get back out there.

“It was a bad year, but I made the best out of it. I believe because I’ve been working hard and investing in my career fully that 2013 will be an awesome year and this year was necessary to make next year better.”

Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.

Covering The Cage Videos
UFC 236 Press Conference Highlights
UFC 236 will feature a pair of interim title fights. In the main event, UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway will face lightweight contender Dustin Poirier and middleweights Israel Adesanya and Kelvin Gastelum will collide in the co-main event. UFC 236 will take place in Atlanta, Ga., on Apr. 13.
Jon Jones retains light heavyweight belt at UFC 235 - VIDEO
Jon Jones retained the UFC light heavyweight belt when he earned a decision over Anthony Smith in the main event of UFC 235.
Kamaru Usman crowned new champ at UFC 235 — VIDEO
Kamaru Usman became the first African-born fighter to claim a UFC belt when he defeated Tyron Woodley to become the promotion's new welterweight champion.
UFC 235 Official Weigh-in Results - VIDEO
All 24 fighters competing at UFC 235 at the T-Mobile Arena on March 2 stepped on the scale prior for the official fight card weigh-ins. All four fighters competing in the title bouts slated for the event made weight.
UFC's Jones says he has no shame after recent drug test results are released - VIDEO
Though recent drug test results still show trace amounts of Turinabol in his system, UFC light heayvweight champion Jon Jones says he has no shame and is hiding nothing as he prepares for his UFC 235 title bout against Anthony Smith.
Anthony Smith stays level-headed prior to UFC 235 title fight - VIDEO
Despite UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones being in the spotlight for drug test discrepancies and other outside the cage struggles, Anthony Smith says he is tuning out the noise and remaining focused on the challenge of beating the reigning champion in the cage.
UFC 235 Media Day Highlights
Highlights and staredowns from the top three fights on the UFC 235 fight card taking place at the T-Mobile Arena on March 2.
UFC 235 press conference highlights
UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley and Kamaru Usman have a heated exchange and Ben Askren enjoys his time on the stage by interacting with UFC president Dana White.
UFC president Dana White talks UFC 235 and more
UFC president Dana White joined Heidi Fang and Adam Hill to discuss the UFC 235 card set for Las Vegas on Mar. 2 at the T-Mobile Arena and also spoke on Colby Covington and Khabib Nurmagomedov's and Conor McGregor's disciplinary measures given by the Nevada Athletic Commission. Full version available on Facebook at Review-Journal Sports
Tyron Woodley and Kamaru Usman Have Heated Exchange At UFC 235 Presser - VIDEO
UFC 235 opened with Jon Jones returning after his meeting at the Nevada Athletic commission, Tyron Woodley and Kamaru Usman arguing on stage and Ben Askren making his UFC debut.
NAC Chairman says it's time to tone down MMA smack talk ahead of fights
After announcing the fines and suspensions given to Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov for their involvement in a melee at UFC 229 in Las Vegas, Nevada Athletic Commission Chairman Anthony Marnell said it may be time to address "mouthy fighters" smack talk and conduct leading up to a fight.
Jones, NAC Chairman issue statements following Jones' licensing approval for UFC 235
The Nevada Athletic Commission issued UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones a conditional one-fight license to compete at UFC 235 taking place at the T-Mobile Arena on Mar. 2. Jones had to reapply for a license in Nevada after failing a drug test which led to UFC 232 being moved from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, California.
UFC donates $240,000 to Make-A-Wish Southern Nevada
UFC presents Make-A-Wish Southern Nevada with $240,000 donation and promises to grant more wishes as the partnership goes forward.
Benavidez on his new contract, future of the UFC flyweight division
UFC flyweight Joseph Benavidez, who is booked to fight Dustin Ortiz at UFC Fight Night 143 on ESPN Plus, discusses his role as an alternate for the title fight between T.J. Dillashaw and Henry Cejudo, his new 4-fight contract and the future of the 125-pound division.
Covering the Cage: Jones, Nunes win at UFC 232
Amanda Nunes defeats Cyborg in the women's featherweight division and Jon Jones returns to UFC as the light heavyweight champion. Covering the Cage host Heidi Fang and Adam Hill recap the UFC 232 main and co main events.
Home Front Page Footer Listing