The hot potato of the UFC is up for grabs again this Saturday night as knockout artists Stipe Miocic and Alistair Overeem will vie for the heavyweight championship at UFC 203 in Cleveland, Ohio. Both men head into this main event fight with different motivations.
For Miocic it’s not only the opportunity to defend his championship for the first time but also do it in his hometown, where he;s also employed as a part-time fireman. For Overeem it’s the chance to finally obtain the unicorn, the one missing piece in his trophy cabinet which already includes the Dream, K1 and Strikeforce championships.
The two behemoth opened up at the media day yesterday, and for the current champ it’s all about remaining focused at the task at hand and not letting the occasion of fighting in how own back yard overwhelm him. He also took the opportunity to reply to any critics who think he’s been enjoying life as champion a little too much.
“It’s business,” offered Miocic. “I’m going to go out there and do my job. I’ve trained super hard. I’ve trained too hard to go out there and give it up. I don’t want to give anything up. I’ve worked too hard to get this title.
“We’ll find out Saturday if I’ve been training or not – when he’s sleeping. I’ve been doing what I’m supposed to do, I’ve been doing my obligations but I’ve been training all the time. Everywhere I went, I brought a coach with me and having guys spar with me. I’m going to win. You’ll find out how I did it when I get my hand raised.”
After moving over the Jackson-Winkeljohn camp in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Overeem’s last four outings have shown far more maturity and strategy than he displayed in the early part of his much-anticipated UFC tenure. It’s this enhanced focus and determination that ‘The Reem’ believes will take him to UFC championship glory and underline his position in the sport as one of the greatest of all time.
“We’re here for one goal and one goal only. We’re going to cement my legacy,” stated the Dutchman. “We are going to get that championship belt. It will be history, and the after-party for some people will not be as nice. I expect him to come with a full arsenal. He has his striking, he has his wrestling base and, yeah, (he’s) a very dominant fighter and has got power. But everyone has power. So I have to be ready for his strikes, for his counterstrikes, I have to be ready for his wrestling. My game plan is great, so I’m very confident.”
The veteran former champion, formerly known as ‘The Demolition Man’, senses something special about this fight and feels his appetite to achieve something he hasn’t been able to since entering the UFC is what will become the determining x-factor between the two men in dying for the belt.
Overeem added: “It definitely does feel special. There’s definitely that extra tingling of nerves. Sometimes you don’t have nerves, sometimes you have a little bit of nerves. This is a little bit of nerves. But this is going to be my 87th fight. We’ve been there, we’ve done that. I use that tension. I’m using those nerves to my advantage.
“We’ll come out on top on Saturday. I am the most hungry fighter of the heavyweight division. I predicted a second or third-round knockout. It depends on him a little bit, too, because it takes two to tango. Judging his nature, it’s not going to take that long – but you never know. He can go away, he can evade, he can become a different Stipe all of a sudden. But otherwise, I don’t see it lasting two or three rounds.”