Former Strikeforce champ Alistair Overeem (36-11 MMA, 1-0 UFC) is ready to put the frustration of a failed drug screen behind him, and after a fruitful meeting with Dana White, it appears UFC brass is comfortable doing the same.
And while a Nevada State Athletic Commission ruling means Overeem can't compete in the octagon until late December at the absolute earliest, that isn't the stopping the "Demolition Man" from making plans – and challenges.
"Junior Dos Santos is the champion for a reason," Overeem said. "I'm just going to lay low. I'm going to fight whoever they put in front of me. But I'm going to get my hands on him, and when I do, he's all mine."
Overeem was in Las Vegas on Saturday to soak in the action at the weekend's blockbuster UFC 148 event, as well as to promote his association with a new sponsor, RIZE Energy Drink. It was one of the Dutch striker's first public appearances since an April NSAC ruling forced him out of a planned championship fight with Dos Santos and onto the sidelines until at least Dec. 27.
Despite the missed opportunity – which was scratched when Overeem tested for a 14-to-1 testosterone-to-epitestosterone (T/E) ratio, more than twice the 6-to-1 ratio allowed by the NSAC – Overeem said he's utilizing the time off to rest his body and mind and expects to return stronger than ever when he does get back into the cage.
"I have not had time off since 2004," Overeem told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). "That year, I had to cancel some fights with some injuries. Since 2005, I've had four, five, six, even seven fights per year. I never really had a couple months off. So for me now, this is wonderful. I can actually go out and have a social life.
"I'm continuing to train. I'm continuing to improve my game. But I feel good because I was always in fight preparation – always, from one guy to the next. Now I'm having some time for myself. I'm using this time wisely. I'm settled into Miami. I really love it there. I'm finishing my house. And if you're in fight preparation all the time, you can't really do that. You're just training all the time, and you have to go to bed every night at 11 p.m., and you're not really meeting new people, so for me, this time off is great. I'm clearing my mind, and I can assure you I'm going to be back stronger in December."
Overeem made his UFC debut this past December, sending Brock Lesnar into retirement with a first-round TKO and notching his 11th-straight MMA win. But the failed drug screen left his next UFC fight anything but a certainty.
Since the NSAC ruling UFC president White has repeatedly stressed he's "out of the Alistair Overeem business," choosing to allow UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta to deal with the hulking heavyweight. But following Saturday night's UFC 148 event, White said a positive meeting with Overeem left him singing a different tune, seemingly opening the opportunity for the fighter to return in a high-level fight.
Overeem, who also confirmed the meeting was a success, said he's encouraged by his new relationship with White.
"Dana is an honest guy," Overeem said. "He's also a direct guy. We're actually very alike. I'm also very direct. I think we'll get along. We're just taking our time.
"It was a good meeting. It was very calm. We voiced our opinions about what happened and just took it easy. It was positive. We were actually very much on the same page. He appreciated that I came in to speak to him directly, and I was satisfied after the meeting. It was very positive."
But Overeem's peers haven't necessarily been quite as supportive. Dos Santos has been vocal in his labeling of Overeem as a cheater, and after the pair's planned meeting was scratched, it's unclear how receptive the Brazilian champ will be to rescheduling the matchup when the challenger is cleared to fight.
For his part, Overeem said he's not going to force the issue and will be happy to face whomever the UFC puts on the table.
"For me, it doesn't matter," Overeem said. "I have 69 fights under my belt. For me, it doesn't matter who I fight. I don't need to have a warm-up fight. I'm going to leave that up to the gentlemen of the UFC to decide. I'm sure they're going to come up with something interesting. Fine by me.
"If they want me to go for the title, I'm going to be ready for that. If they don't, I'm also going to be ready."
But eventually, Overeem insists he's going to get his shot at the belt. As the "most tested athlete on the planet," Overeem said he's taking every precaution to ensure he doesn't ever again fall outside of required commission guidelines, and he knows his time with Dos Santos is coming soon. And when that matchup is rescheduled, Overeem said the champ's words will do little to protect his chin.
"He can talk all he wants," Overeem said. "I know he's very happy that fight didn't happen, and I know he's afraid to fight me. He also knows that I'm the biggest threat out there to him. He knows when he fights me, there's no escape from it.
"He's going to hit and run, or he's going to go down. Either way, he's going to leave that octagon a loser."