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Alistair Overeem taking latest loss in stride, wants to fight again in 2014

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

If you thought Alistair Overeem was about to slip into a fit of depression after his knockout loss against Ben Rothwell at UFC Fight Night 50, think again.

Overeem sent out a thumbs up on his Twitter feed shortly after getting caught with Rothwell’s right hand, saying, "Unfortunate turn of events! No damage..And will be back in gym soon to improve. Spirit is still high. Thanks fans for your support!"

And on Monday, while visiting friends and family in his native Holland, Overeem appeared as a phone-in guest on The MMA Hour and said he’s still taking everything in stride.

"I’m good," he said. "The fight was not good. That was terrible, a terrible result. I can tell you it’s such a shame, because I was in damn good shape. And that just proves to me it can alter in the heavyweights, one mistake, one blow."

Overeem had spent his fight camp at Greg Jackson’s, which he had alluding to being a nice switch-up from his previous camps in Thailand and with the Blackzilians in Boca Raton, Fla. Despite coming in a great shape and with renewed motivation, Rothwell upset the nearly 4-to-1 favorite Overeem by landing a big right hand above the ear, which dropped the Dutch fighter and signaled the beginning of the end.

Ten days later, Overeem wasn’t bemoaning the fact that he’d lost three of four fights so much as he reiterated the idea that he’s headed in the right direction.

"I’m disappointed in the result of the fight, but you know I was in a great place and I’m still in a great place," he said. "I think I really found myself at Greg Jackson’s. I like the people, and the prep was great. And I know -- I just know -- that all those months of work that I put in are going to come out. It might not have come out in the fight, or the result wasn’t there, but I know it’s going to come out later. Because I know what I’m doing in the gym…I just know that it’s in the right direction. So again, very unfortunately result."

When asked what went wrong in his fight at Foxwoods, Overeem said he got a little incautious when he thought he had Rothwell hurt.

"We all knew that Ben has hard hands, that’s how he wins fights," he said. "I kicked his arm, and I thought I disabled his arm. I heard a crack, I could see he was hurt, so I didn’t expect him to punch with it, especially not that fast counter-punch. I was maybe expecting him to punch a little bit later, but not that fast, and I didn’t expect it to come from that angle.

"I should have been more guarded, I should have been more careful. We all knew Ben could take a punch, well maybe take a couple of punches, he’s a tough guy. He’s got hard hands. And I just made a mistake."

Overeem also indicated that the smaller 25-foot cage that was used at the theater in Foxwoods wasn’t ideal, saying it felt "strange" to him, "almost like K-1." Asked if that might have played a hand in the outcome, Overeem didn’t want to throw-up smokescreens.

"Maybe a little bit, but let that not be an excuse," he said.

Perhaps some of Overeem’s positive attitude can be attributed not only to his new camp, but also the UFC’s endorsement. Though he’s gone just 2-3 in the UFC, two of his losses were close being TKO victories in his favor before the tables turned on him (against Antonio Silva and Travis Browne respectively). This past week, UFC president Dana White said that he would give Overeem another fight.

When asked if he was worried about being cut before White went public that he wouldn’t, Overeem said the thought had definitely crossed his mind.

"Not worried, worried is a big word," he said. "It’s something that can happen, the UFC can do that after you lose a fight. So it’s definitely something that you keep in account. Yeah, it’s something that goes through your mind, because they can do it."

With so many expectations attached to him as both a former champion in Strikeforce and DREAM -- and riding a 12-fight unbeaten streak as he debuted in the Octagon at UFC 141 -- the chants of "bust" have grown louder with every loss through Overeem’s stint with Zuffa. Though many have attributed this to his nomadic drifting between camps and/or a perceived attitude problem, after his latest set back Overeem says it’s simpler than that.

It’s that there are no easy outs in the UFC’s heavyweight division.

"It’s also that when you’re in the flow of winning, you’re in the flow of winning," he said. "Now there’s definitely been some hardships here. I also have to say in the UFC, there’s no easy fights in the UFC. Everybody’s tough. This was something I said before the fight. Don’t underestimate Ben. This guy’s 280 pounds, he can take a punch and he hits like a truck. It is the UFC, everybody is there to win."

The 34-year-old Overeem (37-14-1) said he would continue to train at Jackson-Winkeljohn's in Albuquerque, N.M., ahead of his next fight. Though he opted not to call anybody out, he did say he wanted to compete again before 2014 closes out.

"[I’d like to fight] as soon as possible, because I was not out," he said. "I was not sleeping. I was just dazed, and Ben capitalized. So I guess if it’s up to me, not too far away."