Alistair Overeem has won nine of his last 11 fights. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Alistair Overeem takes inventory often.
The former Strikeforce champion and 2010 K-1 World Grand Prix winner will carry the Jackson-Wink MMA flag into battle for the first time when he faces Ben Rothwell in the UFC Fight Night “Jacare vs. Mousasi 2” co-main event on Friday at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Conn. A look in the mirror led to Overeem’s latest change in address, as he shifted his training camp to the Greg Jackson- and Mike Winkeljohn-led powerhouse.
“One of my strengths is -- and I’ve done that a couple of times in my career -- to re-evaluate everything and just go in a new direction ... and not go in a new direction [at] 50 percent but go [at] 120 percent,” Overeem said during the “Countdown to Fight Night” program. “That’s what I just did.”
Overeem had juggled the idea of joining the Albuquerque, N.M.-based team for some time, though a detour to the Blackzilians and fights against the Jackson-trained Travis Browne and Frank Mir delayed a possible move. With those obstacles in the rearview mirror, the 34-year-old Dutch kickboxer has put down roots.
“For me, I needed a home base,” Overeem said. “I’ve always been curious about Greg Jackson from the get-go. It just got on hold because I joined [the] Blackzilians, and then later I had a fight with Travis that postponed my visit; and after Travis, I fought Mir, which again postponed my visit. After the Mir fight, I was like, ‘OK, let’s first get this gym thing sorted.’”
Jackson and Winkeljohn have already made strong impressions.
“I’ve been training and fighting a long time, 20 years now,” Overeem said. “I’ve had the liberty to work with great coaches, with average coaches and also bad coaches. I definitely place these two coaches in the great [category]. You look at their resume, and they’ve built several champions. Both coaches are very experienced. They’ve been there from the beginning, and they’re very analytical. So am I.”
Overeem has not fought since UFC 169 in February, when he took a lopsided unanimous decision from Mir at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., and stopped the bleeding from a two-fight losing streak. He remains one of the heavyweight division’s most feared competitors, with 34 finishes among his 37 career victories.
In Rothwell, he draws a durable veteran with knockout power and something to prove. The 32-year-old Wisconsin native has alternated wins and losses in each of his past eight outings, last appearing at UFC 164 more than a year ago in Milwaukee, where he put away Brandon Vera with third-round punches and knees. Prior to the bout, Rothwell was granted a testosterone replacement therapy exemption by the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services. He was subsequently flagged for elevated testosterone, resulting in a nine-month ban from the UFC.
“I always get energized when I hear who my opponent will be,” Overeem said. “I know he’s a big guy who likes to brawl. I’m hungry. That’s something I’m going to show in the fight.”
Michael Chiesa sees himself as a man on the brink.
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 15 winner will lock horns with Joe Lauzon in a pivotal 155-pound showcase, as he attempts to improve to 5-1 inside the UFC’s cutthroat lightweight division. Chiesa, 26, will enter the cage on the strength of back-to-back victories over Colton Smith and Francisco Trinaldo. A win over Lauzon, who has earned a record 12 post-fight performance bonuses in 16 appearances inside the Octagon, would put him on an entirely different plane.
“I’m one performance away from making people talk about me,” Chiesa said. “I’m one performance away from people going, ‘Alright, this guy is a contender.’ I have to make a statement in this fight. I’m just trying to become a better athlete and better my career. Unfortunately, that’s got to be at the expense of his.”
THIS & THAT
UFC Fight Night “Jacare vs. Mousasi 2” will be the 289th event staged in the history of the Ultimate Fighting Championship ... The four men to whom former Strikeforce, Dream and Cage Warriors Fighting Championship titleholder Gegard Mousasi has lost -- Lyoto Machida, Muhammed Lawal, Akihiro Gono and Petras Markevicius -- have combined for 96 victories between them ... Charles Oliveira ranks first among featherweights in submission attempts per minute (2.4) in UFC competition, according to FightMetric data ... When Blackzilians representative Sean Soriano was born on Oct. 6, 1989, the top five songs on Billboard’s Hot 100 list were Janet Jackson’s “Miss You Much,” Madonna’s “Cherish,” Milli Vanilli’s “Girl I’m Gonna Miss You,” Warrant’s “Heaven” and Cher’s “If I Could Turn Back Time” ... American Top Team’s Justin Scoggins, 22, is the sixth youngest fighter on the UFC roster ... Chris Camozzi has held titles in the Victory Fighting Championship, Rocky Mountain Bad Boyz, Tap or Snap, Kickdown MMA and Elite Fighting Extreme organizations ... Tateki Matsuda lists two-time K-1 World Max champion Masato Kobayashi as his hero ... All three of Serra-Longo Fight Team export Al Iaquinta’s losses have resulted in submission, including two fights in which he was choked unconscious ... Matt Mitrione was a four-year starter and four-year letter winner as a defensive tackle with the Purdue University football team and still ranks seventh on the school’s all-time list in career tackles for loss with 50.