It has been a long time coming for Alistair Overeem. The dutch heavyweight has been out of action for over a year dating back to his octagon debut at UFC 141 where he retired former champ Brock Lesnar in devastating fashion. Soon afterwards he was found to have a testosterone to epitestosterone ratio of 14:1 (the legal limit in Nevada is 6:1) after which the Nevada State Athletic Commission refused to renew his licensure for nine months. After serving his nine month retroactive suspension, Overeem, having succumbed to over eight drug tests, re-applied for licensure and was granted it. 

Before he can regain his former no.1 contender status, Overeem will first meet Brazilian heavyweight Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva, who is coming off a knockout win over Jackson’s MMA prospect Travis Browne. Whilst the former Strikeforce heavyweight champion is aware of the obstacle in front of him, he does not believe that it is one that he will be unable to clear come February 2nd.

“I am very pleased to be back,” Overeem stated on the UFC 156 media conference call earlier in the week, “It’s just a matter of time in that sense. We still have one more mountain to climb first and that’s ‘Bigfoot’ [Silva] but to be honest, I do not see any problems. It is going to be an exciting day twelve nights from now.”

When asked about his long layoff and the pressure he feels on his return, Overeem was quick to explain that he feels the same amount of pressure before every fight and thrives on it. He is simply looking to get in the octagon and perform to the best of his abilities–no matter the stakes.

“There is always pressure, there is always tension and I like that. That is my fuel. Every fight is the same, you just need to get the job done. Even if my title fight is two fights away or three fights away I am always focused on my next battle.”

With his UFC 156 main card battle less than ten days away, ‘The Reem’ is aware that he will become the no.1 contender with a win over ‘Bigfoot’ but insists that his title aspirations are not the motivating factor when he steps in the cage. His will to win and to prove himself are far more pivotal to his rise than the championship belt.

“Winning he fight is the most important thing–whether for a title or not.”

Follow Karim Zidan (@TheFlyingKneeTO) for all the latest MMA news and updates.

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