The “big” fights just keep on coming in for the UFC as the organization announced today that it had signed former Strikeforce heavyweight champ Alistair Overeem to a contract and was pitting him against former heavyweight champ Brock Lesnar in the promotion’s end-of-the-year show (likely UFC 141) on Friday, Dec. 30 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
“This is the fight the fans want,” UFC President Dana White told the Los Angeles Times. “Both of these guys are monsters.”
The news comes on the heels of last Friday’s announcement that current heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez will face Junior Dos Santos Nov. 12 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., during the UFC’s first-ever event on network television.
The winner of that fight will face the winner of the top contender’s bout between Overeem and Lesnar.
The 31-year-old Overeem (35-11 MMA)—who was released by the UFC in late July because of a disagreement on his ability to fight in a Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Tournament bout in September—has signed an exclusive contract with the UFC.
“It’s a long-term deal exclusive to the UFC,” UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta told ESPN on Tuesday. “Alistair is known to bounce around in K-1, Dream and Strikeforce, but he’s now exclusively signed to the UFC.
“At the end of the day, he’s one of the best in the world. Now we get to see how he matches up against (UFC) guys. We have a tremendous heavyweight division and bringing him along makes it stronger.”
Meanwhile, Lesnar (5-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC) hasn’t competed since losing his belt to Velasquez last October in the Honda Center. A second bout with diverticulitis, an intestinal disorder, stopped Lesnar’s scheduled summer bout with fellow “The Ultimate Fighter 13” coach Dos Santos.
A report late last week speculated that the former WWE superstar’s illness and inactivity would force him to retire, but White said such talk was “ridiculous.”
“It’s so far from the truth it’s not even funny,” White said. “The guy’s working up on a farm in Canada all summer. He’s 100 percent.”
While the 6-foot-5, 260-pound Overeem (known for his powerful striking) hasn’t lost in four years, he could have his hands full with Lesnar—who is two inches shorter, but slightly heavier. The former NCAA Division I national wrestling champion had won four straight UFC fights via stoppage, before losing quickly to Velasquez.
But that challenge intrigued Overeem enough to pass on a guaranteed title fight against the winner of Velasques-Dos Santos and instead focus on Lesnar in the UFC’s annual New Year’s Eve weekend show.
“Brock is a big name, a dangerous guy, and this is a dream matchup,” Overeem told The Times. “Brock’s a big guy, an exciting wrestler with his takedowns.
“I want to see this fight myself. Overall, I’m a different fighter. A striker, athletic, big. These are going to be two big trucks going at it on a collision course.”