Alistair Overeem is back in action in the main event of UFC Fight Night St. Petersburg, facing Aleksei Oleinik in a heavyweight division affair.
One thing that Overeem has done throughout a long professional MMA career was change fight teams, which the fighter says has prolonged his career.
“If I had stayed in one or two places, I’d probably be retired by now,” Overeem said on The MMA Hour. “Because as a fighter, you can get compromised. It’s not for everybody, but I have been compromised a couple times in my career, and to me, it was do or die time. I had to make some changes. Sometimes I didn’t want to make changes, but I still had to make changes if I wanted to continue my career. Let’s go back to my last loss to Curtis Blaydes — actually that was two in a row, because I had lost to Francis (Ngannou) and I lost to Curtis. I was training out of Jackson’s. The chemistry there, we had a good chemistry, but it was just finished. And to me, I still want to fight, so you’re going to keep doing something that doesn’t work for you? Or you’re going to make changes and figure it out again? And to me, I had to do that. I had to figure it out again. I still felt I could do that. Back then I was 37, I’m 38 years old now. But I felt like I could still do it, I need to do it.”
The fighter has trained with such teams as Golden Glory, Jackson-Winklejohn and Elevation Fight Team throughout his career.
Overeem doesn’t see changing teams as a bad thing, especially when the chemistry between himself and a team starts going in a bad direction.
“Let’s not forget, I’ve been training for 26 years, competing for 22 years. My first fight was in 1997. So to me, that’s obvious: You’re going to have at least a couple different camps,” Overeem said. “I don’t know if that’s always a bad thing. Sometimes when the chemistry’s done and when there’s no clear direction, but there is a direction that you want to [continue to] fight but there’s no clear direction [within the team], there’s not really good communication, it’s a good thing to change. In my 26 years, change has actually always been a great thing. Actually, the only place that was not a good change was when I went to the Blackzilians. That was truly terrible, and it showed. And I made changes [to get] out of there and it went better, to Jackson’s MMA until that chemistry was finished. Because it’s like every relationship. In relationships, chemistry can go down, right? It’s not always a perfect marriage forever, unfortunately, because in the past I’ve also had to say goodbye to coaches I was perfectly okay with, but I had to do it, because yeah, I want to fight, I want to make the most of my career, and I’ve basically always lived by that phrase. I want to make the most of my career. And sometimes you’re going to have to say goodbye to people, to groups, to teams, for that goal.”
UFC Fight Night St. Petersburg takes place on Saturday, April 20 from the Gazprom Arena in St. Petersburg, Russia with Alistair Overeem and Aleksei Oleinik headlining. Fightful is providing live coverage of the event, which streams live on ESPN+.