His dominant efforts against Harris and Sakai last year mean that hashtag and mindset carry over into this year, and this matchup with Volkov, which is the first of several crucial heavyweight contests on the schedule over the next two months, culminating in a highly anticipated title rematch between champion Stipe Miocic and challenger Francis Ngannou at UFC 260 on March 27.
Once more, it needs to be clear that what Overeem is doing — at this age, at this stage of his professional career — is not normal, which is what makes it all the more exciting.
“It means a lot because I like to be independent and in control of the things that I have control over,” he said of being able to embark on this “final run” as he’s called it, given how few of his contemporaries have been able to dictate the terms of the late stages of their careers. “There are no guarantees — we have to be realistic because life is life — but I put all my efforts and energy into the sport, and my body, and that allows me to still be active at the highest level after 20 years.”
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Given the impressive totality of his career, there is no question that Overeem will go down in the annals of history as one of the greatest heavyweights of his era, and perhaps in the entirety of the sport, but how would the man himself like to be remembered when it’s all said and done?
“This is kind of funny, right, because to be honest, I was never occupied with how to be remembered or how people thought of me,” he said. “I was just cruise-controlling and doing my thing, especially not worried about how people are thinking or talking about me.