Sometimes negotiating tactics are overrated, particularly when one possesses the fight-ending power of an Alistair Overeem.
With one massive left hook, Overeem solidified himself as a coveted free agent at UFC on Fox 17 in Orlando on Saturday night. That punch floored former heavyweight champ Junior dos Santos, and a few follow-up hammerfists later the contest was stopped 4:43 into round two.
The decisive finish came on the heels of a lengthy feeling-out process in which dos Santos looked reluctant to pull the trigger and Overeem landed effective but infrequent offense. That measured approach has paid dividends for the massive Dutchman, who has won three straight and four of five overall in the Octagon.
“Junior has very dangerous hands. He throws bombs. He’s slipping punches, too. From the beginning I really felt that he wanted to slip my attacks and then counter,” Overeem said at the post-fight press conference. “Later on in the fight he became a little bit more aggressive and he started to plant a little bit more. That’s the moment I heard from my corner, ‘This is the time. Throw it.’”
The showdown with dos Santos was more than three years in the making, but even with such a high-profile opponent looming, Overeem says he never allowed himself to look ahead to what might happen should he prevail.
“My focus has been on this big fight. I wanted this fight. My entire focus was on it. When my entire focus is on training and preparing, I just do 100 percent that and nothing else,” he said.
Now, however, Overeem is free to be courted by other promotions. Given the scarcity of talent at heavyweight throughout the sport, it’s unlikely that any other organization can present Overeem with the type of options that UFC can. Fabricio Werdum is scheduled to defend the heavyweight strap in a rematch against Cain Velasquez at UFC 196 on Feb. 6. Overeem believes his performance against dos Santos should move him right to the front of the line when it comes to heavyweight contenders.
“This is the new reality. I’m gonna have to look at what’s going on. I’m actually looking forward to it,” he said. “I do think a title shot is there. I’m very confident with the team and the people I have around me that we can pull that off. Let’s negotiate and see what happens.”
Regardless of his next move, Overeem is motivated to keep his momentum going. That means very little down time for the Jackson-Wink MMA member.
“I’m not done yet,” he said. “I want to keep going. I’m already gonna head back into camp in January, and I’m gonna be ready for what’s gonna be next.”