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Even at 40 years old, Alistair Overeem keeps finding ways to win.
After being outstruck for the better part of three rounds by Augusto Sakai in the UFC Fight Night 176 headliner, Overeem relied on powerful ground-and-pound to down the stretch to earn a technical knockout victory 26 seconds into Round 5 of their heavyweight bout.
“He’s durable. I kind of knew that going in,” Overeem said after the bout. “He was a little bit more durable than I thought. He’s an up-and-comer, hungry, tough and punches hard. He punches a little bit harder than I thought he would. He has dangerous legs—loose and fluid. We had to drag it out to the later rounds and then get the finish.”
It took patience and some adjustments, but the Dutch veteran was able to end Sakai’s four-fight undefeated streak in the Octagon.
“A first-round finish would be ideal—10 seconds would be ideal—but this is the UFC,” Overeem said. “Everybody’s got a plan, cardio and strategy to win. Sometimes you’ve got to be a little bit patient.”
The former Strikeforce champion has won four of his last five Octagon appearances dating back to November 2018 and has finished each of his wins by TKO. The streak would likely be at five were it not for a questionable late stoppage in a loss to Jairzinho Rozenstruik at UFC on ESPN 7 this past December. While he isn’t angling for a rematch with Rozenstruik, he would accept the opportunity if it arose.
“Rozenstruik, I destroyed that man,” he said at Saturday’s post-fight press conference. “I schooled him. In my opinion it was a very bad decision by the ref, waving it off with zero seconds left. I have no problem running that back. In my mind I already beat him. It’s only on paper that he got it, and he knows it too. But no problem running it back.”
Overeem challenged for UFC heavyweight gold once in 2016, falling to Stipe Miocic via first-round knockout. He believes he still has more work to do to get another crack at the belt.
“If it was not for the Rozenstruik debacle, I would already be there now,” Overeem said. “But I think I need another win.”
Overeem knows his time is limited in MMA, but for the time being, he continues to win. That’s why he hasn’t set a clear timeframe for the end.
“I’ve not decided it yet,” he said. “I’m gonna just see how it goes. I still love it. I’m still improving. I still feel I can do it. We just need to see it case by case.
“Probably one or two more years, maybe three. I don’t know.”