It's been a trying past year-plus for Alistair Overeem. He was so close to the top of the heavyweight mountain top after pounding Brock Lesnar into retirement, having earned a title shot against then division champion Junior dos Santos. Then he failed a drug test, lost a ton of credibility amongst the mixed martial arts (MMA) fan base, and nearly damaged his relationship with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White beyond repair.
Time really does heal all wounds, though, and now that he's served his suspension and passed all drug tests in the meanwhile, the fight game is welcoming him back with open arms.
In fact, his bout later on this evening (Feb. 2, 2013) at UFC 156: "Aldo vs. Edgar" at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, against Antonio Silva is a number one contender bout. If he wins, he'll set up a date with Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez sometime later this year.
Suffice it to say he's not lacking confidence:
"I know I'm a better fighter. The fight will probably end in one or two rounds, I'm going to raise my hands after, and he's just going to be a number on my list; a statistic. I want to finish him in the first round. I have the power to knock Bigfoot out for a long, long time. I expect Bigfoot to try to take this fight to the ground. I believe that I have the advantage if the fight goes to the ground. I'm better in the stand up, I'm better in the ground, I have more knockout wins, more submission wins... I'm better in every aspect and I'm going to show that on Feb. 2 in Vegas."
Let's not sell his opponent short. Silva was last seen nearly decapitating Travis Browne at UFC on FX 5 in Minnesota and while he may have struggled against the elite of the division in bouts against Daniel Cormier and the previously mentioned Velasquez, how can we be sure Overeem is truly elite yet?
"Bigfoot" believes a win here would put him back in that company:
"For me, everything is at stake in this fight. This fight will put me among the UFC's elite. For me, it's very important to be among the best, and fight in the UFC. Overeem's stand up is quite dangerous. He's quite technical and is also very strong. In no way do I feel intimidated by his size. I weigh 282 pounds like him. I believe in me, I believe in my stand up game. I believe in my jiu-jitsu and I don't fear him at all. I respect him as a professional but I don't fear him. I do not expect him to want to take this fight to the ground. He is a striker and that would be stupid. I'm a jiu-jitsu black belt athlete. UFC fans have not seen my best yet. I'm improving every day. I'm correcting my mistakes and I'm looking to improve everything. Overeem will see the best of Bigfoot. Not only can I defeat Overeem, I will beat Overeem."
There's a lot at stake for both fighters, making this a highly intriguing contest. Plus, one of these men may not ever be the same by the time all is said and done inside the cage.
What more do you need to get hyped for this one?
Remember that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the UFC 156 main card action on fight night (Sat., Feb. 2, 2013), which is slated to air at 10 p.m. ET on pay-per-view (PPV). The latest quick updates of the live action will begin to flow earlier than that around 6:30 p.m. ET with the "Prelims" bouts on Facebook and FX Channel.
For all the latest "Aldo vs. Edgar" news and notes click here.