No one else was able to accomplish what he did: Alistair Overeem won titles in two major MMA organizations in Dream and Strikeforce, and topped all of that by winning the K-1 World Grand Prix in 2010, the most prestigious trophy in kickboxing. Today he fights exclusively for the UFC, and a return to pure standup combat is something he finds hard to picture.
"No," he said in an exclusive interview with German outlet GNP1.de. "And I will explain why: Because there are no good big promotions. The only big promotion is Glory, and Glory is struggling financially. It's not what it once used to be with K-1."
K-1 has been the leading kickboxing organization during the nineties and oughts and sold out gigantic arenas around the world with legendary fighters such as Peter Aerts, Ernesto Hoost or Remy Bonjasky. After the promotion sled into a financial crisis in 2010, it changed owners frequently. Today, K-1 is just a mere shadow of it's former glorious self and lacks international relevance, especially in the heavyweight sector.
The new market leader is Glory, where champion Rico Verhoeven rules the heavyweight division. But besides Verhoeven, there is no one else who could bring excitement to fans nor him as a competitor, says Overeem.
"The problem is: there is no heavyweight division", he says. "It's only Rico. Because everybody else quit or is retired or injured. That's why for me, there is no challenge in kickboxing at all."
Another thing that bugs the Dutch kickboxing expert is the declining audience. While K-1 managed to pack almost 100,000 people into arenas for their biggest shows, only a few thousand are buying a ticket for a Glory event.
"There's no crowd. As a fighter you want to fight on a big stage", says Overeem. "K-1 had bigger audiences than the UFC. Some events are huge, 50,000 people, but in general, K-1 was bigger, Pride was bigger. But when the promotions are not there anymore... as a fighter you wanna stand on the big stage."
This was part one of a three-part interview. Part two will follow up tomorrow, where Overeem talks the return of Fedor Emelianenko.