It’s been a summer-long party for the city of Cleveland. Fans have been enjoying the championship victories by their hometown Cavaliers in the NBA and the UFC’s own Stipe Miocic.
Miocic has enjoyed himself, too. Alistair Overeem has noticed and believes a shift in mindset for Miocic is why he’ll take the title from the champ on Saturday at UFC 203.
“I went to UFC 200 – a great event in Vegas – and I didn’t go to any pool parties. I was training every day,” Overeem said Wednesday in a media scrum after his UFC 203 Open Workout. “Stipe was going to different parties. He’s wearing different clothes and acting crazy and having a drink in his hands.”
Overeem respects Miocic and can’t blame the champ for soaking in everything that comes with the championship lifestyle. But the challenger has starved himself in training to become champion and the only way he can feed his hunger is to win the title – the only major MMA title that’s eluded the legendary Dutchman.
“While he was celebrating I was working,” Overeem said. “I was training hard. My life has been dedicated for the last two and a half years and the last six months I’ve definitely put on a couple notches more.”
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Overeem signed with the UFC in 2011 after already establishing himself as one of the best fighters to strap on the four-ounce loves. After a tough stretch that included three losses in four fights, Overeem has run off four straight wins and three knockouts in that span.
Despite Overeem’s vast experience – championship titles in Strikeforce, Dream and K-1 – the 36-year-old is still feeling some nerves before his first crack at the UFC strap.
“There is definitely that extra tingling of nerves,” he said. “Sometimes you don’t have nerves and sometimes you have a little bit of nerves. But we’ve been there. This is going to be my 87th fight. We’ve been here and done that. I use that tension and those nerves to my advantage.
“I am the most hungry fighter in my weight division.”
Matt Parrino is a digital producer and writer for UFC.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MattParrinoUFC