UFC heavyweight Alistair Overeem made a successful return to the octagon Saturday at UFC 209 in his first fight back since a title fight loss to champ Stipe Miocic last fall. Knocking out veteran slugger Mark Hunt with vicious knees in the first round (his second win over Hunt following a 2008 submission victory over the Super Samoan in Dream), Overeem is now looking forward, already targeting potential opponents for his next bout.
His original choice, rising heavyweight star Francis Ngannou, appears to have already been booked elsewhere by the UFC — so who else is on his radar? And would he be interested in another rising heavyweight, Derrick Lewis? Overeem (42–15 (1)) addressed the subject following the card Saturday.
I’m open to fighting Francis, I’m open to fighting Derrick Lewis, I’m open to fighting the winner of JDS-Stipe, if JDS wins because that’s a little more [of a] logical step to me. It needs to make sense. So we’re gonna wait and see, we’re gonna wait and see what’s on the table. I know the UFC is coming to Holland I think sometime this year, so I’m very excited about that. So we’ll see, I’m just going to make sure I’m not going to take too long a time off, get back in the gym and get better than I was yesterday
The upcoming heavyweight rematch between Miocic and Dos Santos was of particular interest to the Dutch striker, not surprisingly given his history with both men. Yet Overeem singled out a JDS victory as a potential shortcut to another title shot. Overeem and Dos Santos capped off years of trash talking at UFC on Fox 17 in 2015, where “The Reem” finished his Brazilian foe within two rounds. Speaking about UFC 211’s Miocic vs. Dos Santos 2, Overeem said
it’s very tight, I mean Stipe’s doing great work, ever since he lost [to] JDS he has been on a roll, he’s finishing his opponents left and right, dominating them, but JDS is a tough cookie. He won that first fight… again, two tremendous athletes, two tremendous warriors, I can only have respect for both from what they’ve shown in the octagon. I’m not rooting for anybody, but I’m just saying if JDS wins that, there’s a little something there between me and JDS that could be a shortcut.