Valentijn Overeem – ‘The Python’ Shoots on the Grand Prix, Fedor, Sefo & Career
By Dave Carpinello
Feared Dutch mixed martial artist and kickboxer, Valentijn Overeem recently talked with PDG, the PRIDE, RINGS and K-1 veteran talked about the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, his younger brother Alistair, Fedor Emelianenko’s recent defeat, his career and getting the chance to fight in front of the American fans for Strikeforce.
PDG: Congrats on your victory over Ray Sefo, how did it feel to make a successful debut for Strikeforce?
Valentijn Overeem: Thank you, it was an awesome experience.
PDG: You were able to defeat Sefo rather easily, were you surprised at his lack of ground game and that he tapped to a neck crank?
Valentijn Overeem: Ray Sefo is a very good striker and a respected fighter but you know that I have more experience and so I just waited for the right moment.
PDG: You have won three fights in a row now (K-1, MMA), what changes did you make if any to your training and preparation after losing to Rafal Dabrowski?
Valentijn Overeem: In the fight before Dabrowski (Nikolai Onikienko), I broke my noise. So in the fight against Dabrowski I felt the pressure to finish the fight very quickly and it didn’t work out that way. After that I learned to be a more patient fighter and to make and wait for the opportunities to arise in my fights.
PDG: What are some of the biggest differences that you have noticed fighting for Strikeforce as compared to some of the other organizations you have fought for?
Valentijn Overeem: I think that Strikeforce is one of the most professional organizations that I have fought for and they have such a huge fan base that’s ever growing. The fans are awesome and the attention from the media has been great. It is really uplifting that the media chooses to recognize the sport of mixed martial arts here in America as opposed to in Holland where they want to ban the sport.
PDG: Your brother Alistair Overeem is also competing in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, what are your thoughts on his upcoming fight against Fabricio Werdum?
Valentijn Overeem: His going to kill him!! [laughs] Seriously though, he is really motivated and ready for this fight.
PDG: If you couldn’t pick your brother to win the tournament, who would your pick be? (Antonio Silva, Sergei Kharitonov, Josh Barnett, Brett Rogers or Werdum)
Valentijn Overeem: I guess I would have to take Mr. Silva because he is in really good fighting shape right now.
PDG: Were you surprised by the result of the Fedor vs. Silva fight?
Valentijn Overeem: Yes and no, Fedor Emelianenko, in my eyes is still one of the best fighters ever but the margin for error today at this level of fighting is so small and like I said earlier Silva is on a roll. If you also look at the weight difference of 40/50 pounds I would say that made a huge impact. I would of loved seeing the third round because I think Fedor still had something left but I respect the decision of the referee and doctor to end the fight as fighter safety should be above all else and that is what they did with this decision.
PDG: Given the financial state of MMA and K-1 in Japan, how important was it for your career to get a deal with Strikeforce?
Valentijn Overeem: I have fought in Japan since I was 19 years old and I have had 27 fights there. So getting the opportunity to fight in America and especially for Strikeforce is a dream come true for me. I think that the mixed martial arts and kickboxing fight scene will always be big in Japan because it is in their culture. So it will recover as soon as the world economy gets a little better.
PDG: Has Strikeforce given you any kind of time frame on when your next fight will occur?
Valentijn Overeem: No, not yet.
PDG: After your victory over Sefo, did you take any time off or did you get right back in the gym?
Valentijn Overeem: I took one week off and then it was right back into the gym. I have to be ready for some of the best heavyweight fighters that roam the planet or I will get my ass kicked. [laughs] In all honesty, I am really so motivated to give a great show to the fans and be at my best that I must train and prepare very hard.
PDG: Depending on the Strikeforce schedule, how many more fights would you like to have in 2011?
Valentijn Overeem: That is up to them and my health but I’m feeling great and I have no injuries so I am just waiting to see what Strikeforce offers.
PDG: You have been fighting for over 15 years, how many more years do you plan on spending in the sport?
Valentijn Overeem: As long as my body allows me too because it is a great sport and seeing it grow to the extent that it is now has been a wonderful experience for me. I’ve been fighting for 18 years since I started my training at age 15 and then I fought my first kickboxing fight at 17 and my first MMA fight was when I turned 18 years old.
PDG: Thanks for your time, is there anything else that you would like to add?
Valentijn Overeem: You know without the fans this sport would not have been possible, so I’m always very grateful to all of the fighting fans and especially the fans of Golden Glory. I would also like to thank Scott Coker and the Strikeforce crew for always taking good care of us fighters. And to my buds at Golden Glory, the trainers and fighters for the hard work and at the same time, the fun that we have together.
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