Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Alistair Overeem has a professional wrestling match booked in July and a kickboxing fight scheduled in October but that doesn’t mean he’s finished with mixed martial arts just yet.
The 42-year-old heavyweight knows his combat sports career can’t last forever but after his release from the UFC in 2021, he still has a desire to compete in MMA at least one more time.
“Absolutely not [done with MMA],” Overeem told The MMA Hour. “Might do one more [fight] or maybe two. Might be one.
“We’ll see what comes about but the calendar’s booked. We’ve got the Badr [Hari fight] and then we’ve got Rico [Verhoeven] after potentially so that will be next year and then we’ll see.”
After leaving the UFC, Overeem wasted no time signing with GLORY kickboxing but an injury prevented him from facing heavyweight champion Rico Verhoeven in his return to the sport.
According to Overeem, a persistent back problem caused him to drop out of the fight and now he’ll face former foe Badr Hari in October after they split a pair of bouts while both competing in K-1.
“It was kind of a severe one,” Overeem said about his injury. “I had it twice before. Every 10 years. I had it in 2001 and then I had it in 2012 or 2013 it was and then again now. It required a lot of care, a lot of stretching, a lot of treatments, that kind of stuff. Slowly, gradually it gets better.
“It gives me time to reflect on life and health and actually gives me time to upgrade. Upgrade in all the fields. So I’ve been doing just that. Now I’m ready to fight. The fight got announced now in October. I’m enthusiastic about that. The rubber match, the trilogy fight with Badr. That is going to be a big fight for the world of kickboxing. A big fight for the Netherlands.”
If all goes well in October, Overeem would ideally like to rebook the matchup with Verhoeven in early 2023 but the time will come when he takes another MMA fight before hanging up his gloves for good.
As far as potential opponents, Overeem isn’t mentioning anybody by name, although he initially scoffed at ex-PRIDE champion Fedor Emelianenko as a suggestion for his final fight.
“Respect to Fedor,” Overeem added. “He hasn’t fought in a couple of years. I’ve been working on my compassion lately and I think challenging a man who has not fought for several years, I don’t really think that’s a good thing to do.”
Of course, Emelianenko actually fought more recently than Overeem after he defeated Tim Johnson with a vicious first-round knockout in Bellator in October 2021. That win came eight months after Overeem’s last appearance when he fell to Alexander Volkov in what would serve as the final fight of his UFC career.
Still, Overeem admits Emelianenko wouldn’t necessarily sit near the top of his wish list for opponents but then again he could have easily said the same thing about Hari ahead of their scheduled trilogy in October.
“[Fedor Emelianenko is] not a fight I would particularly look for and even the Badr fight, in the beginning not a fight I would look for but the closer it gets, the more it becomes a thing,” Overeem explained. “I’m actually getting really enthusiastic about it.
“It could actually also happen with the Fedor fight. Initially, not something I would really look for but I don’t know. The hype kinds of speeds up, people start talking and it’s like this is pretty cool actually. Let’s go.”
Overeem hinted “there were some talks” with an MMA promotion about another fight but for now he’s staying focused on pro wrestling and kickboxing for the rest of 2022.
As far as the relationship he shared with the UFC, Overeem has no regrets about his time spent there even if things didn’t end the way he wanted.
“I think the UFC is an awesome organization,” Overeem said. “They’ve always been good to me. They have not really been nice to me but they’ve been proper to me. I think they’re a really professional organization that’s making the best decisions for the sport and that’s exactly how they should operate.
“It’s all good. Even that, this is a corporation and once you’re dealing with a corporation — it has a corporate feel, let me put it that way — the human aspect kind of goes away. That’s how it goes. They had to make their decisions to grow the sport, to grow the company. They’re the most successful fight company in the world. I had a lovely 10 years with them. I had ups, I had downs and it came to an end.”