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Overeem: I ‘probably already had’ coronavirus; Thailand was ‘flooded with the Chinese’

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“I was in Thailand during Chinese New Year. It was flooded with the Chinese and some people who were close to me had symptoms.”

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Overeem vs Pavlovich Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Alistair Overeem thinks he caught COVID-19 before the virus became a global pandemic, after spending the Chinese New Year in Thailand.

The decorated heavyweight travelled to Thailand at the end of January to spend time with his family whilst the Chinese New Year took place. Talking recently to Duello Channel, Overeem claimed the country was flooded with Chinese tourists during the celebratory period and he was around people who had symptoms of the virus.

“I’ve probably already had it,” Overeem added. “I was in Thailand during Chinese New Year. It was flooded with the Chinese and some people who were close to me had symptoms. That’s what it’s like now in the whole coronavirus discussion.

The 39-year-old continued by stating his obsession with a healthy lifestyle has meant he isn’t “afraid” of the virus.

“This is the time to eat healthy and be healthy, right,” Overeem said. “It’s very good for your immune system. As an athlete, I’ve been always very obsessed with health and the immune system. That’s why I’m not really afraid of the virus.”

It’s worth noting that people with Chinese roots gather and celebrate this holiday in various countries, but it doesn’t automatically mean they all just flew in from Wuhan or mainland China. And even if it’s true that Thailand was actually “flooded with Chinese,” the country has had lower cases and deaths (43) compared to their Asian neighbors and the rest of the world.

The specific province where Overeem trained has even lower numbers, with reportedly just 18 cases today, with zero deaths. If you rewind three months ago when he was there, that number would be pretty much non-existent. The first death in the country happened in a different province, about two months after Chinese New Year.

Also contrary to what many believe, symptoms can really vary from person to person, and the coronavirus really doesn’t discriminate with age and physical fitness. For instance, in the MMA world alone, 10-time BJJ world champion Roger Gracie recently shared his “violent” battle with COVID-19. The top athlete was bedridden for two weeks, while his girlfriend had milder symptoms that lasted just four days.

Overeem (45-18, 1NC) was expected to face Walt Harris in the main event of UFC Portland on April 11th, but that along with many other UFC events were postponed due to the virus. The veteran Overeem lost his last fight to Jairzinho Rozenstruik by stoppage in the fifth round after winning most of the fight.