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Alistair Overeem sees himself as the hungrier ‘wolf’ in UFC 203 fight against Stipe Miocic

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

It’s been a long haul for Alistair Overeem in his quest to get title shot, and on Sept. 10 — after nearly five years in the UFC — he will get his chance against Stipe Miocic. And even though the 36-year old is going into Miocic’s backyard of Cleveland to try and take his belt, he’s hoping to rain on the parade.

Overeem says he hopes to turn down the volume at the Quicken Loans Arena at UFC 203, just like Miocic did against Fabricio Werdum in Brazil at UFC 198 in May.

"I’m actually very excited about [fighting in Cleveland]," Overeem said during an appearance on The MMA Hour Monday. "Obviously 99 percent of the arena will be rooting for Stipe. But, you know what, it is what it is. And when I get my hand raised, I have my fans all over the world, but at that moment the crowd will be a little bit quiet. I look forward to that moment."

One thing that Overeem says he has in his favor is hunger. Now a winner of four fights in a row, with his latest coming against his Jackson-Winkeljohn teammate Andrei Arlovski in his native Holland (TKO), Overeem says he’s been focused in training while Miocic is still doing a victory lap around his city for becoming its first champion in 55 years (though the Cleveland Cavaliers followed suit a month later by winning an NBA title).

He said he caught a glimpse of Miocic’s preoccupation while in Cleveland for a promotional visit, which happened to coincide with the Cavaliers victory parade.

"[There were] zero incidents [with Miocic], we were not together that much," he said. "To be honest, I think Stipe’s a cool guy. I mean, we didn’t really talk that much. We’re going to compete against each other, and it’s strictly business. But on the other side, he’s been riding a real high. He’s the hero of Cleveland, he’s celebrating it, he got married, he’s partying.

"But yeah, I got one message. That the wolf that is hungry is going to run a little bit faster than the wolf that is sitting on top of the mountain chilling who has his belly full. That’s a little bit what I’m seeing here. Yeah he’s enjoying the life, he’s enjoying the high, but I’ve been working. After Arlovski I went right back in the gym and I’m just working, working. Working for that date, which is coming up Sept. 10."

Asked if recognizing Miocic’s possible complacency gave him an advantage leading into the fight, Overeem said it might.

"It definitely gives me confidence, and yeah, it builds me up," he said. "I’m putting in the extra work, and you need to do that as a champion. And I’m doing it."

The 33-year old Miocic has gone 9-2 in the UFC since debuting at UFC 136 against Joey Beltran. His lone losses came against Stefan Struve (in 2012) and a narrow decision against Junior dos Santos (in 2014). Since then he has rattled off three wins in a row, coming against Mark Hunt, Arlovski and Werdum, all via KO or TKO. Six of his UFC victories have come via finishes.

Overeem, who has won four in a row and five of six overall, has finished three opponents while marching into contention himself (against Struve, dos Santos and Arlovski).

When asked how he envisioned the fight ending on Sept. 10, the former Strikeforce and DREAM heavyweight champion said more of the same. He expects to become only the second fighter to put Miocic away via strikes.

"Two or three rounds, knockout," he said.

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