Ben Rothwell may be the lowest ranked heavyweight that Alistair Overeem has faced since he joined the UFC ranks, but after playing with fire one too many times, the Dutch kickboxer is not prepared to take any "265lb beast" lightly.
The former Strikeforce heavyweight champion is scheduled to meet Rothwell at UFC Fight Night: Connecticut this coming September in a fight that will serve as the Overeem's first as a Jackson's MMA student. He is currently coming off elbow surgery, which kept him out of action since his victory over Frank Mir in February.
Overeem had initially requested a slot on the UFC Japan card in September, as it coincided with his recovery timetable, and because he considers himself "popular" in the region. After he realized that would not come to fruition, he expected a match-up against Stipe Miocic, but was ultimately given Rothwell.
"I wanted to actually fight on the Japan card," Overeem told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. "I thought that was a nice idea because I'm kind of popular there, so I thought that would be good. But that card was already full and they said, 'Can you fight Sept. 5th?' So, yeah, well sure. They had Stipe [Miocic], but he was banged up. So they came with Ben Rothwell."
"The Reem" is going through a variety of changes in his professional life, including switching his gym, management team, and place of residence. He only recently ended a two-fight skid that saw him lose dramatically to both Antonio Silva and Travis Browne. Now that he back to his winning ways, Overeem is not likely to repeat his earlier mistakes.
"Don't take opponents lightly. Don't take anyone lightly," he stated. "This is the UFC. I am fighting against a 265 [pound] beast. The guy is huge. So, of course, he's going to try to knock my head off. So, yeah, don't underestimate anyone in that sense. I am currently coming out of a surgery, but I am optimistic. I am learning every day. I am training hard. It's hard because it's high altitude, so yeah, it's going to be another challenge and we have to be 100 percent to make sure we overcome this challenge."
Although he is clearly not looking past Rothwell, Overeem is optimistic that his following fight could be against Junior dos Santos.
"I'm focused and I want to really fight. I'm very optimistic [a bout with dos Santos] is going to come and I want it to come. "I could see that fight happening right after this fight, I'd like to fight with Junior."
Transcription taken from MMAFighting.com.