Overeem 'likes' to fly under the radar

Alistair Overeem enjoys not being the center of attention during the press conference. Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

Hard-hitting Alistar Overeem, who is ranked fifth among heavyweights by ESPN.com, hasn’t been getting much attention leading into his Saturday night bout in Boston against Travis Browne.

Overeem sat on the podium for nearly 30 minutes Thursday during a pre-UFC Fight Night 26 media conference as other fighters slated to compete at the event answered questions about their upcoming bouts. For the guy once considered a shoo-in to land a title shot, Overeem wasn’t even an afterthought.

It wasn’t difficult to notice the lack of media interest. But if Overeem felt any disrespect he immediately quashed that notion when a question was finally addressed to him. In fact, he welcomed the snub.

“I kind of actually like [being ignored] a little bit,” Overeem said. “I don’t have to fake it too much. I can just observe it.

“I’m paying attention to the new rising stars. And that’s fine with me, for today.”

While Overeem is enjoying his time away from the spotlight, he immediately made it clear that things will return to normal quickly. Without going into detail, Overeem plans to make a statement against Browne.

“I assume [the attention] is going to pick up after this fight,” Overeem said. “I expect it to pick up after this fight.”

With lots of fanfare surrounding his arrival in UFC, the former Strikeforce champion seemed headed toward a title shot with current promotion heavyweight titleholder Cain Velasquez. But a third-round knockout loss to Antonio 'Bigfoot' Silva on Feb. 2 at UFC 156 derailed Overeem’s title quest.

He now sits behind Junior dos Santos, Fabricio Werdum and Daniel Cormier in the heavyweight contender pecking order. An impressive win Saturday night over Browne, however, is sure to get Overeem back in the title conversation.

And that is exactly what Overeem is seeking to accomplish, whether anyone is currently paying attention or not.


Middleweight contender Chael Sonnen never shies away from making his harsh feelings about Brazil and its fighters known. He’s directed several strong words toward former middleweight champion Anderson Silva, and recently has targeted former Pride titleholder Wanderlei Silva.

His opponent Saturday night is former UFC light heavyweight titleholder Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua, a Brazil native and close friend of Wanderlei’s. But Sonnen has shown no interest in disparaging Rua.

On the contrary, Sonnen has expressed respect for the man whom he will face in the light heavyweight main event. And Rua, obviously, has taken notice.

“The only thing that bothers me is when he talks about my country and my friend Wanderlei,” Rua said. “But I’ve tried not to get too involved in that. I’ve tried to keep my focus on my training and make sure that I am 100 percent ready for the fight.”

After the fight, win or lose, Sonnen is returning to 185 pounds. He has lost two fights in a row, both at light heavyweight.