For Alistair Overeem, mixed martial arts isn’t just about fighting and violence.
Being part of the industry for two decades now, Overeem (39-14-1) claims that the sport turned his life around in more ways than one.
“It is violence, that’s right. But there is a lot of discipline and technique involved,” Overeem told Tiebreaker Times in a sit-down. “(There are) a lot of positives. I reached millions and left a positive footprint behind. Basically, it turned my life around. Before I was training and fighting, I wasn’t really focused. For me, it has been a game-changer and a life-changer.”
Inside the octagon, the 34-year-old kickboxing and MMA champion is brutal. He devastates his foes like a wrecking ball destroying hapless walls. But outside of what people normally see, Overeem is a gentleman. Somehow, he’s like an oversized teddy bear — a perfect example and representation of what MMA is all about.
In his maiden visit to the Philippines, Overeem happily engaged with UFC fans, exchanged smiles and high-fives with them, gamely answered questions from the press and even played a video game version of the UFC where he would control his own character and battle other gamers.
Through his years of engaging in bigtime battles and spending countless hours perfecting his craft, Overeem has learned the ups and downs not just of MMA but of life. The sport helped him mature inside and outside the octagon, and served as a home for the Dutch fighter.
“I learned a lot of things. You get to know yourself, people, business, and the process of getting older. I am not really focused on what legacy I have to leave behind but if people like me, then they’ll like it. I’ll just be myself,” he shared.
Even after losing twice in succession, Overeem did not give up and took his game even a level further.
“You need to analyze yourself. What is correct or not correct. When you do that, you win. When you lose, you analyze more. You have to change. When you lose, you upgrade more. Sometimes you have to change everything,” Overeem said on how he overcame setbacks.
“(You) change your team, focus, fighting style. I am very fortunate to be able to change everything. It always resulted in a boost in results and that is what you’re seeing right now. That is the key to success.”
Admittedly, Overeem still has no idea why MMA became more relevant than ever.
“I don’t know. UFC has a great business model and they have the ability to go into new markets like what they did in China. I don’t know what the secret is. I am not a businessman or promoter, but I like what they’re doing. They take me to good places.”
He’s just delighted to have a place he can call home.