Alistair Overeem raised eyebrows on Saturday night when he called out former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar.
After all, not only did Overeem already easily dispose of Lesnar when they fought in 2011, but Lesnar doesn't even fight any more, at least not for real.
But Overeem stood by his decision to call out his former foe during a Monday in-studio appearance on The MMA Hour.
"I believe I read somewhere that he wanted to come back, and that he believed he didn't fight because of the health conditions and that it would have been different if he was healthy," Overeem told host Ariel Helwani. "He was talking about maybe a comeback, and I thought he wanted to fight me because of his last fight, maybe a rematch. With Brock, you have to take it with a grain of salt."
Either way, Overeem's future in the UFC heavyweight division once again looks bright after a dominant performance against Frank Mir at UFC 169 in Newark's Prudential Center. Overeem picked Mir apart standing and even got the best of things on the ground with the jiu-jitsu ace, as he rolled his way to 30-27, across-the-board scores.
It was a point-proving performance for the former Dream and Strikforce champ, as he rallied from a pair of knockout losses (to Antonio Silva and Travis Browne) last year in which he started strong, then faded fast.
"Everyone was screaming ‘the cardio, the cardio, the cardio,' so I was like, ‘let's listen to everyone for a change and let's drop some pounds," said Overeem, who did the bulk of his training for the Mir fight in Thailand. "I actually kind of enjoyed watching my food, I do believe eating clean just keeps you good, mentally, and it worked."
While perhaps Overeem could have finished Mir -- and it certainly appeared that Mir was a solid strike or two from going down when they were re-stood late in the third -- Overeem was intent on sticking to his game plan of not falling into any traps.
"In my mind I was actually just focused on not walking into the trap that happened with Travis, where you just punch yourself out and then suddenly you end up in a leglock or an armbar, because that's what Mir is known about,' Overeem said. "He's got this dangerous submission game, he can take a beating, and he's also known for faking a little but, wobbling once you start getting into it, you're in a submission. That was my main focus."
While the intent was clear, the explanation still wasn't enough to sell his boss on his performance. UFC president Dana White called Overeem's performance "crappy" on FOX Sports 1 late Saturday evening. But Overeem isn't going to lose sleep over his boss's words.
"Dana is a very upfront character, I like that about him, because I like to know where I'm at," Overeem said. "And he's entitled to his opinion, as we all are. I think it was a very technical performance, it is what it is. I can't make more of it now. I can understand him, he's the promoter, he wants to have exciting fights. Ratings matter, fans matter, fans want exciting fight. I hope he also understands my opinion, the ‘loser leaves town match.' Since the Travis fight, [I heard] a lot of things about my cardio. In life sometimes you always don't get what you want."
Overeem doesn't regret calling his performance "safe." The way he sees it, the Mir fight was a means to an end, that end being an eventual shot at the championship.
"Not at all, because it was the truth. Sometimes you have to play it safe. For me, this was a big test: If you're going to go to the championship rounds. Everyone is saying, ‘Alistair can't do this, Alistair can't do that.' It was a big question could I do that, also for myself, because fighting is different than training. Now I feel like yes, I can do to the championship rounds. After the three rounds I was good, and I could do two more."
Overeem's going to take it easy for awhile before plunging into his next fight. Notably, he balked at discussing his contract situation, saying "I'm not at liberty to discuss that," when asked if he was a free agent. He's planning on a three-week break in Jamaica, then after that, who knows? Maybe he'll even keep dreaming of that Lesnar rematch, should the latter ever decided to return from the neighborhood of make believe.
"I care about the title, of course, but if [Lesnar]'s going to come back, why not? It would be a great fight. Brock healthy, because that's what the discussion is, if he's focused, he's healthy, we all remember what he did with Heath Herring, Randy Couture, he is the former UFC champ, aggressive, he's huge, he's strong. I think that would be a very good fight."