Alistair Overeem left the UFC today as arguably the biggest star, and perhaps even the best UFC fighter who didn't reach the champion belt. The promotion did not express interest in continuing the collaboration with the legendary Dutchman and now the question is what could follow.
The 40-year-old started his career in 1999, and after only one fight in the Netherlands, he found his home in Japan. This was due to the current president Rizina, and earlier the man who made Pride a world fighting force and in fact the first "mainstream" MMA organization, Nobuyuki Sakakibara.
He is also someone who might be interested in a new cooperation with Overeem, so for that reason, he was contacted by Bleacher Report reporter Tom Taylor, to whom Sakakibara responded. "I think Alistair played an important role in building the sport in Japan and around the world.
I remember when I went to the Netherlands to sign a contract with his brother Valentin, and then I saw 17-year-old Alistair in the hall and decided to sign him at the moment." "He was a skinny boy, but I still remember the impression he made on me when I first saw him in the hall, "recalled the legendary promoter of his collaboration with Reem, who first performed in the Rings promotion in Japan, after that he was in Pride and finally in Dream, before he went to Strikeforce, where he actually gained that real global fame.
Sakakibara wants to cooperate with Overeem
Sakakibara went on to admit that he has nothing against working with Overeem and is willing to give him a chance to re-enter the Japanese ring, the one where he actually achieved his greatest successes, despite later even greater fame and financial success.
"When I say that, I have to admit that I have special feelings for Alistair. If it makes sense for him to retire in Japan, we are here and we can give him that opportunity." "This year we start on March 21 in Nagoya, but our plan is to do seven shows, the final for the end of the year in Saitama.
Maybe it's something that will make sense to him." "He needs to understand the current Japanese market. He should do us a friendly favor and fight for about the same amount he got in his debut, " Sakakibara added, however explaining that this last part was a joke: "Joke aside, I wouldn't have any problem working with him if the numbers made sense to all of us. I'm also sure a very large number of fans would love to see him end his career in Japan."