Dana White took questions from UFC fans and media this week at a Toronto press conference. The name Alistair Overeem was brought up to the UFC president and the questioner wanted to know when he’s coming to the UFC. Not only was White complimentary towards Overeem, he said he’d sign him if he could.
This is news on a few different levels. I think this shows most importantly the ascension of Alistair Overeem and his relevance among casual MMA fans. For the last three years it was Fedor, Fedor, Fedor. Whether fans have moved on from Fedor Emelianenko or have just come to the conclusion that it isn’t happening, the focus among many MMA fans seems to be seeing the UFC sign Alistair Ovreem.
[adinserter block=”2″]Another newsworthy component here was Dana White’s answer. In the past White would get angry when asked about signing Fedor and would at times cut a promo as to why Fedor is overrated. There was no anger here at all. White said he respected Overeem and said flat out, “If I could get him in the UFC, I’d do it.” White also prefaced this by saying he always wants the best guys. Interesting answer from a guy that rarely offers other fighters outside of the UFC compliments.
I came across an interview with Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem on You Tube from May 2010. Overeem was asked why he hasn’t signed with the UFC. Overeem cited that there was too much control in the contract the UFC presented to him. He stated that the UFC can control how often you fight, when you fight, and would have kept him exclusive. The issue there is Overeem fights quite a bit internationally and reportedly makes a ton of money to do it. Overeem says in the interview that K1 and DREAM made him a great offer which is why he opted to go in that direction rather than sign with the UFC.
There have been flirtations between the UFC and Overeem as Overeem stated above. Dana White and Overeem have publicly appeared together and Overeem has even said that he would like to fight in the UFC at some point. This is much different than Fedor Emelianenko who has rarely said anything at all to lead the MMA public to believe he wants to fight in the UFC.
How would Overeem stack up in the UFC? Well one of the biggest points of contention Overeem critics will bring up his lack of quality opponents. It is a fair statement but that will change with him being entered in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament. He has a first round fight against Fabricio Werdum and would fight Fedor in the following round if both win their fights. Overeem has a serious chance to quiet his critics by winning this tournament, at least his first two fights.
[adinserter block=”1″]One of the big factors into getting Overeem into the UFC would be the rumors of the financial troubles of DREAM and K1. “The current course is that FEG will die”, said President Sadaharu Tanikawa. The demise of DREAM and K1 would eliminate a lot of financial opportunity for Overeem who appears to be a very smart businessman. As of today DREAM and K1 are still kicking, but that could change at any time depending upon what you read. It would be difficult for Strikeforce to compete with the UFC for Overeem if you take the international bookings out of the equation.
I don’t know what Overeem’s contract is with Strikeforce but I will presume he has at least three fights since he is in the tournament (then again it is Strikeforce). Could you imagine the impact of Alistair Overeem winning the Grand Prix and showing up when it is over in the UFC? It could happen and my prediction is that Alistair Overeem will be in the UFC in 2012.
And that would be tremendous!
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