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Alistair Overeem likes that CM Punk is testing himself, but says he’s ‘in for a hard time’

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

After nearly five years in the UFC, Alistair Overeem will finally fight for the heavyweight title at UFC 203 against Stipe Miocic. For him it will cap a long journey to the top of that particular promotion, after operating as the heavyweight champion of Strikeforce and DREAM, as well as a K-1 champion in kickboxing.

The 36-year old Overeem has been fighting since he was a teenager.

In stark contrast, 37-year old CM Punk (real name Phil Brooks) will be debuting on Sept. 10 in Cleveland, testing himself against Mickey Gall. The famous pro wrestler, who signed to the UFC in Dec. 2014, has long coveted a chance to see how he’d do in the literal sphere of fighting.

And the big heavyweight Overeem says he likes to see a man find out what he’s made of.

"Yeah, I’m curious as to how he’s going to do of course," Overeem said during an appearance on The MMA Hour. "But I think he’s in for a hard time. I don’t know who he’s matched against, but this is definitely different than pro wrestling. Especially in his weight class, he’s a welterweight, I believe — those guys are tough man. He’s going to experience it firsthand. And you know the thing is too? If he does bad, the whole world’s going to be on top of him. If he does good, the next guy will be in line for him, and the next guy is going to just keep on coming. There’s so many good guys at welterweight.

"So, that’s definitely somebody I wouldn’t want to be right now."

Overeem will try and take the title from Miocic in his own backyard of Cleveland, just as Miocic took the belt from Brazilian Fabricio Werdum in Brazil this past May. It will be a regionally tailored card for the current champ, which Overeem says is a welcome challenge on its own.

Yet Brooks hails from Chicago, which isn’t all that far from Cleveland. His added appeal to the card is certain to add local intrigue, as well as national appeal for the pay-per-view.

Asked if having CM Punk on the card, and benefitting from the glow of his curiosity, was a good thing or a detriment, Overeem said it was the former.

"I love the idea that he got into the UFC because I love tests," he said. "And he’s about to test himself, and you know, I’m going to have extra respect for him if he keeps on going. If he wins, and even if he loses -- if he wins and he keeps on going I’m going to have extra respect for him, but now we’re going to see what he is made of. Now we’re going to see the true character. Everybody wants to be a fighter, right until they get hit, until they get their face broken.

"So we’re going to see what’s going to happen. All these guys are going to line up. They all want to break him. They all want to break him mentally, physically, and it’s not going to be fun for him. He’s a hunted prey. Why? Because he’s a big name. Because he’s a big money fight. So he’s going to be the hunted. And it’s going to be a lot of respect, if he’s going to be able to hold up and if he can stand his ground and become victorious. I’ll be watching that fight definitely. And again, I like people who take challenges."

Overeem said he had his share of experience being thrown to the wolves in a moment of self-discovery.

"That’s how I went into the K-1," he said. "Went in there, MMA guy, going against their best. And we’re going to see what’s going to happen. And to come back on that, I lost a couple of fights. I remember my first big K-1 fight was in 2001 in Holland in the A Class, and I fought in A Class, I was maybe like a C Class Maybe, D. And that guy destroyed me with low kicks. I was like, oh my god. And there were maybe 7,000 people in the arena, at that time pretty big. And it was embarrassing because you’re getting your ass kick. And mentally too.

"But at that moment, in 2001, nobody ever thought I would win the K-1 nine years later. So it’s all about character. It’s also about perseverance. And it’s a test. And we’re going to see what happens."