Alistair Overeem was matched up twice against Junior dos Santos in the UFC, but had to pull out both times for different reasons. "The Reem" is once again calling out the former champion, and the Brazilian is interested in the fight.
"Cigano" is still recovering from surgeries after a five-round war with Stipe Miocic in December, and targets an October or November return to the Octagon. As of Overeem’s "gatekeeper" comments, dos Santos just laughed.
"I have to smile because this guy… He knows I’m hurt and that’s why he’s saying these things," dos Santos said on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. "I’m injured and I can’t fight right now and that’s why he’s saying this kind of things. I really think he wants to promote himself. I wanna see him saying these things when I’m 100 percent again. I think he’s going to be quiet again."
"But of course, I don’t pick opponents," he continued. "If the UFC wants me to fight him, I will fight him and I will be glad to face him. We were supposed to fight twice and both of the times didn’t happen because something happened with him."
Overeem vs. dos Santos was first booked when the Brazilian was the heavyweight champion, back in 2012, but the challenger tested positive for elevated testosterone levels in an out-of-competition drug test. The two heavyweights were again slated to fight each other a year later, but Overeem pulled out due to an injury.
dos Santos went 2-1 since, with a TKO loss to heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez sandwiched by wins over Mark Hunt and Stipe Miocic. Overeem was more active since, winning three out of five with victories over Roy Nelson, Stefan Struve and Frank Mir.
"I think he did well, he did a good job," dos Santos said of Overeem’s recent wins. "He’s a good athlete, he’s a good fighter, but, for sure, he’s a better talker than a fighter."
"Cigano" says he needs "three more months to become 100 percent again, start training normally again", and is anxious to finally put on a win streak together again.
"It’s a very tough time for me. I don’t know what happened, bad things started to happen with me, but I think bad things comes to you to make you learn something," he said. "I think I’m learning a lot, I think it’s going to make me a better person and a better athlete. For sure, I don’t know why it’s happening, it’s very tough. Last three years were really tough for me, but I believe things will go well for me and I will be 100 percent again."
Becoming a better athlete means working on other aspects of the MMA world, says the boxing expert.
"I’m seeing things in a different way now," dos Santos said. "All the times I tried to use my boxing skills in my fights and it’s MMA. I know I have to my best skills, which is my boxing skills, but I have to be able to fight anywhere. Like Velasquez. My boxing skills always worked out very well against all my opponents, but against Velasquez he did a good job and avoided my stand-up game.
"I think I have to be able to fight on the ground with him and in other places because, like I said, it’s MMA. I’m learning a lot of things, learned that I have to be more patient when I’m fighting, that I have to be more focused. When you have hard times, I think you learn more."