Alistair Overeem showed no signs of a post-title fight hangover on Saturday night.
One bout removed from a first-round knockout loss to Stipe Miocic in a heavyweight championship clash last September, Overeem was in top form at UFC 209, as he methodically took apart Mark Hunt en route to a third-round knockout victory. “The Reem” battered his opponent with knees and elbows in close quarters throughout the fight before landing a pair of knees in the third frame that sent an unconscious Hunt face first to the canvas at the 1:44 mark.
“I am very proud, but I am also very proud of my team. This is a great group of guys surrounding me and we might be old, but we’re not done yet,” said Overeem, who revealed that he struggled with food poisoning ahead of the bout. “We see a lot of things [when we watch film], we studied my opponent very extensively, all my coaches do, and I think that combined with my ability, technical ability, athletic ability, I’m able to put these guys away.”
Leading up to UFC 209, Hunt was very vocal about Overeem's previous failed drug test and repeatedly accused his opponent of being a cheater. “The Super Samoan” also filed a lawsuit against the promotion and Dana White for $2.5 million after Brock Lesnar was allowed to face him at UFC 200 despite having tested positive for an anti-estrogen agent in an out-of-competition drug test.
Overeem sidestepped any controversy in the aftermath of his victory on Saturday night.
“People know what I’ve done. People know what I didn’t do. I’m really positive, I’m an optimist. I think his whole avenue was pretty negative form the get-go. I’m talking about the lawsuit toward the UFC and complaining. I would have never taken the same avenues. I thought his whole demeanor was pretty negative,” Overeem said. “I’m not gonna continue with that negativity. I put in a lot of work for this fight. And at the same time I respect Mark Hunt because he’s a champion and I love his fight style. We’re OK outside of the Octagon and I didn’t want to get drawn in to that negativity.”
With five victories in his last six Octagon appearances, Overeem remains one of the top heavyweights in the division. If Junior dos Santos defeats Miocic at UFC 211, Overeem believes he could quickly jump back into the title picture thanks to his victory over dos Santos in December 2015. If Miocic prevails, then he might focus on some of the rising stars in the weight class instead.
“I’m open to fighting Francis [Ngannou], I’m open to fighting Derrick Lewis, I’m open to fighting the winner of JDS-Stipe if JDS wins because that’s a little more logical step to me,” Overeem said. “But it needs to make sense. We’re gonna wait and see what’s gonna be on the table.”