The last year of Alistair Overeem‘s career has been under the spotlight, but not for the reasons he would have liked.
Following a blistering Octagon debut that saw the former Strikeforce champion demolish Brock Lesnar to close out 2011, he was poised for a title fight against then titleholder Junior dos Santos at UFC 146.
Unfortunately, a pre-fight drug test revealed Overeem had an elevated ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone, and instead of fighting for the championship, he spent the next nine months on the sidelines waiting for a de facto suspension to be lifted so he could answer questions about competing again instead of drug test results.
Overeem now finds himself right back where he started in his UFC career, just one win away from a title shot, with a familiar face staring back at him from across the cage. He is set to fight fellow former Strikeforce competitor Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva.
Admittedly, Overeem is excited to get back to business and that business is knocking out the best of the best in the heavyweight division.
“Very happy, very pleased to be back,” Overeem told MMAWeekly.com on a recent UFC media conference call. “It's just a matter of time in my sense. We still have one more mountain to climb, that's Bigfoot. But to be honest, I do not see any problem and then yes it's going to be an exciting day.”
The exciting day is when Overeem finally gets to fight again and then, if all goes well, he will next compete against new UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez later this year.
With the prospect of a title shot looming overhead, Overeem knows there are expectations to come away with a victory, and do so in devastating fashion. It's nothing that Overeem hasn't faced before.
After spending much of his career as a light heavyweight, cutting massive amounts of weight to get down to 205 pounds, he then had to re-establish himself as a heavyweight fighter. Overeem managed to get over that hill, and then climbed an even bigger obstacle when he became a K-1 Grand Prix champion, becoming the world's most elite kickboxer and joining fellow Dutch legends like Ernesto Hoost, Remy Bonjasky and Semmy Schilt.
Now with the UFC heavyweight title within arm's reach, Overeem doesn't mind the inevitable title shot talk that comes along with this fight. He's been there before, and he hopes to be there again after Saturday night.
“There's always pressure,” said Overeem. “There's always tension; I like that. That is my fuel, but every fight it's a change, you just need to get the job done.
“I just believe even if the title will be a few fights away, I'm always focused on my next battle. Winning the next fight is the most important thing.”
With a win, Overeem won't celebrate yet because that just means he's got an even bigger mountain to climb. That mountain has a name and that name is Cain Velasquez.