It was quite a night for Alistair Overeem in Florida on Saturday. Not only did he win a back and forth battle against the very dangerous Walt Harris, earning a TKO victory three minutes into the second round, but the fight ended just minutes before midnight, when Alistair turned 40 years old.
Footage of his corner singing Happy Birthday in the back made it’s way to social media, and it’s almost enough (almost) to make you forget he had to snuff out Walt Harris’ emotional UFC comeback.
Forty years old! Overeem has been a fixture in the combat sports world forever, but it didn’t quite sink in for me that he was pushing into his fourth decade. That brings a little urgency to any plans he has for his career, because even though heavyweights seem to last a little longer than other fighters, the end of his time in the cage is undoubtedly nearing.
During his post-fight press conference interview, he agreed with that assessment and laid out what he wanted to get done before he turned 41.
“We’re still hunting for the title,” Overeem said. “I would say also I’m in the last phase of my career. So those two things are a little bit on my mind. Finish up the career and one more run at the title.”
“What’s next is some time off because we’ve had an extra long camp, five weeks extra,” he said. “So that makes it ten weeks I was in camp. So we’ll have some time off, enjoy my 40th birthday, yes, yippee. And then I dunno, fight again in September, October. Not too long of a layoff. I think September / October will be nice.”
He also shared his thoughts on fighting in an empty arena, a first for the experienced Dutchman.
“This was fight number 92,” he said. “It kind of reminded me of my early fights, I have to go all the way back to 1997 when there was 200 or 300 people in the audience. This was a little bit different, and I don’t know ... it motivated me. During a pandemic, first time no audience, so to me it was very interesting tonight. Still you got the attention, still the nerves going through you fight day. It was different, it was cool. I liked it, I enjoyed it.”
Well, if he does indeed come back around September he could get to enjoy the whole empty arena situation once again. Barring a vaccine, it doesn’t seem like crowds at sporting events are going to be a thing for a long time.
Let’s wrap this thing up with one more Happy Birthday wish, this time from Paul Felder.