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Alistair Overeem found new motivation fighting in empty arena: ‘I enjoyed it’

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“I don’t know but it was different. It was cool. I liked it. I enjoyed it.”

There’s been mixed reactions to the UFC hosting events amid the coronavirus pandemic, with some fighters struggling to adapt but others treating the opportunity to train and fight under a global shutdown as a blessing in disguise.

UFC veteran Alistair Overeem is among those who welcomed the new challenge, telling MMA Fighting in the UFC on ESPN 8 post-fight press conference that he really enjoyed fighting in an empty arena and that training during the pandemic gave him some newfound motivation.

“Strange, I was fired up about it,” Overeem said following his second round TKO of Walt Harris in the UFC on ESPN 8 main event . “This was fight No. 92. It kind of reminded me of my earlier fights. I have to go all the way back to ‘97 when there were like 200 or fewer people in the audience. This was a little bit different though and I don’t know, it motivated me.”

“During a pandemic, first time, so to me it was very interesting tonight,” he added. “No audience. Still you got tensions, still you’ve got the nerves going through you fight day. I don’t know but it was different. It was cool. I liked it. I enjoyed it.”

Overeem, 40, is 3-1 in his last four fights and, as of writing, ranked #8 in the UFC heavyweight rankings. ‘The Reem’ finished Harris shortly after dropping him with a head kick and a follow-up left hand in the second round.