Alistair Overeem knew it was coming.
The hulking former Strikeforce heavyweight champion stopped Brock Lesnar Friday night at UFC 141, sending the onetime UFC king into retirement at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
During Friday’s post-fight press conference, “The ‘Reem” stated that he foresaw the exact way the fight would go down on the day prior to his showdown with Lesnar.
“The funny thing was I predicted the [fight’s finish] the evening before, to my fiancé,” Overeem explained. “I said, ‘First I’m gonna do this, then I’m gonna do that, and I’m gonna finish it with a liver kick.’ I don’t know if it’s luck or if it’s strategy, but it just turned out that way, and I’m happy that it did.”
Overeem appeared slightly tentative in the early going, and Lesnar was equally cautious. Rather that rushing the K-1 grand prix champion, Lesnar looked to establish his standup by throwing a pair of low kicks and pawing with a jab.
“[Lesnar] hasn’t fought in a long time, so I think he upgraded his game. That is what every fighter should do,” Overeem said. “He was getting predictable only going for the takedowns. I was ready for whatever he was gonna throw at me.”
Apparently unconcerned with Lesnar’s standup arsenal, Overeem continually walked forward, meeting Lesnar with punches and knees to the body, discouraging his massive foe from shooting in for a takedown. His foe reeling, Overeem landed a perfectly placed round kick to the liver, doubling the Minnesotan over and finishing the job with punches against the cage.
“After one of the first knees ... he didn’t come for the takedown, as [I knew] he would,” said Overeem. “After that, we would come in the clinch and he would disengage. Usually, Brock is a guy that comes straight forward, but he was not doing that. Then I knew that the knees bothered him.”
Leading up to the bout, Overeem was forced to split training time between Las Vegas and the Netherlands in order to be close to his mother, who is suffering from cancer. Distractions aside, Overeem credits his camp for aptly preparing him for such a tough test.
“I get my confidence from training. Training, despite the distractions, was going good,” said Overeem. “Guys couldn’t take me down, so I felt good and I felt confident even though Brock is a big, strong guy. I just felt that I was going to beat him up.”
With his conquest of Lesnar, Overeem earned a shot at Junior dos Santos and the UFC heavyweight championship in 2012.
“Junior dos Santos is a very different fighter [than Lesnar], so the game plan will be very different. But both are very aggressive, and I like to be aggressive. I just like to be dominant. I don’t like to be going backwards, waiting. Sometimes you have to, but I prefer to go in there and beat the opponent up.”
While an exact date for Overeem’s collision with dos Santos has not yet been set, “The Demolition Man” said that fighting for the UFC belt will be a career highlight.
“I’m very excited to be fighting for the title. It’s my goal and, at this point, the highest achievement for every martial artist in the world,” said Overeem. “My experience [with] the UFC is huge; I think it’s 100 times bigger than Strikeforce. K-1 is big, but [the UFC] is even a lot bigger than K-1. I was a little bit blown away with all the fans and when you walk in [the Octagon]. It’s crazy. I loved it, every second of it.”