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Alistair Overeem on controversial UFC 203 interview: ‘Joe Rogan put me on the spot’

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Alistair Overeem Esther Lin photo

It was one of MMA’s most controversial verbal exchanges in 2016.

Right after suffering a brutal knockout loss to Stipe Miocic in the main event of UFC 203, Overeem was interviewed in the middle of the Octagon by UFC color commentator Joe Rogan.

Overeem, who was clearly still shaking off the cobwebs, claimed Miocic tapped to a guillotine choke earlier in what had been a memorable, back-and-forth one-round battle.

Replays showed Miocic didn’t tap, and Overeem was booed by the crowd in Miocic’s hometown of Cleveland as commentator Rogan aggressively countered his claims.

The entire scenario led many to question whether the UFC should continue the practice of interviewing fighters in the arena immediately who have just suffered knockout losses.

“Joe Rogan put me on the spot,” Overeem said on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. “My coaches were the ones that addressed the issue with me, they were like ‘Alistair, he tapped,’ and I told them ‘listen guys, are you actually 100 percent sure, and they told me we’re 100 percent sure, that’s why I picked it up, because of them. Rogan jumped up on it, and I saw he was like ‘I got you.’ He had me on that one, but it’s all good.”

It’s been three months since that memorable evening, and the veteran Overeem has done his best to pick up the pieces and move on. In looking back on the fight, Overeem is quite gracious in crediting Miocic for getting the job done.

“We came very close in the guillotine, he did an excellent job escaping guillotine and pressing that fight after that,” Overeem said. “The other thing was, it was over so quick I didn’t really have any damages. Two right shots, right on the jaw. He has a great right hand. It was already over. I was not gassed, I wasn’t tired, I didn’t have any damage. So kudos to Stipe Miocic, he’s a champion for a reason, he’s very strong very accurate, like I said before, and he took me out.”

Since then, Overeem, who has won Strikeforce and Dream heavyweight gold over the course of his mixed martial arts career, has done his best to move on and get his head back together as he prepares for another run.

“I always look ahead,” Overeem said. “Because if you keep worrying about the past and about what, that just makes you an unhappy guy and I choose to be a happy guy, you gotta look at it, you gotta think about positive things, you gotta create positive things and do positive things, so that’s basically what I’ve been up to lately.”

As for who might make for an interesting choice in next opponent, the Holland native said he didn’t really have any preferences. But then he went on to rattle off a bunch of names of fighters whom he’s fought in the past.

“I have no idea,” Overeem said. “There’s a bunch of top 10 guys not booked. I believe at this level it doesn’t really matter, the top 10 guys, top five guys, it’s all good. ... I don’t have beef with anybody but after that first fight with [Fabricio] Werdum, that could be something interesting. [Ben] Rothwell could be nice, right. I lost two and a half years ago Other than that, Bigfoot [Silva] is a fight I would like to avenge, but he’s not with UFC any longer. Maybe Travis [Browne] is a fight I could avenge. That’s just a fight I thought should have been in my favor. I know I’m better that this guy.”

That will all sort itself out. In the meantime, Overeem, the decorated former kickboxer, will serve as a color commentator for Saturday’s highly anticipated Glory dream matchup in Germany between heavyweight champion Rico Verhoeven and hard-hitting Badr Hari.

“I’ve been asked to be a commentator for the show,” Overeem said. “This is going to be my second time commentating fights, I did it once before ... sometime a couple years ago. I liked at, and Glory thought it would be nice if I joined the commentary crew, so that’s what I’ll be doing. This Saturday, I was already going to attend the fight, it’s a very big kickboxing matchup.”

It’s clear this matchup has brought out the fan in “The Reem.”

“You have the champion Rico Verhoeven, who has been the champ three and a half years undefeated. And he’s fighting Badi Hari who was the Bad Boy of K-1. ... he never won the Grand Prix, but he basically defeated everyone, all the top guys at one point. He’s one of the most dangerous fighters, so it’s a champion between the new kid on the block and the old, dangerous legend.”