Curtis Blaydes may have left Alistair Overeem a bloody mess when they battled last June. But fast forward to today, and Overeem says the powerful wrestler is one of the best training partners he’s had during his lengthy career.
Overeem faced Blaydes at UFC 225, and in round three, the latter proceeded to put “Reem” away with a vicious, series of ground-and-pound elbows. The strikes cut Overeem badly and handed him his 17th pro defeat.
Well, not long after, Overeem elected to make the move from Jackson’s MMA in New Mexico to Colorado’s Elevation Fight Team where Blaydes trains. Recently Overeem was a guest on “The MMA Hour”, and the decorated fighter discussed why he decided to leave Jackson’s MMA following the loss to Blaydes. In addition, the Dutch star also heaped praise on the main who defeated him at UFC 225 (quotes via MMA Fighting):
“Let’s go back to my last loss to Curtis Blaydes — actually that was two in a row, because I had lost to Francis (Ngannou) and I lost to Curtis. I was training out of Jackson’s. The chemistry there, we had a good chemistry, but it was just finished. And to me, I still want to fight, so you’re going to keep doing something that doesn’t work for you? Or you’re going to make changes and figure it out again? And to me, I had to do that. I had to figure it out again. I still felt I could do that. Back then I was 37, I’m 38 years old now. But I felt like I could still do it, I need to do it.”
“…He’s a great fighter, he’s a great athlete, and he’s a great guy as well,” Overeem said of Blaydes. “I really actually like him. I’ve trained, in my 26 years, with a lot of professionals, a lot of champions, a lot of strong fighters, and Curtis is one of my favorites. No ego whatsoever. We don’t discuss our fight. We lift each other up to a better level, and it’s great to be part of the team and great to help him on his journey to greatness.”
If Overeem feels he needs to change gyms on a fairly regular basis, as a means to enhance and evolve his game, then all the power to him. Further, when you consider all the fighters he’s trained with over the years – and don’t forget Overeem has kickboxed professionally as well – his praise here for Blaydes is certainly noteworthy.
Up next, Overeem is booked to take Alexei Oleinik at UFC Saint Petersburg, April 20th, Blaydes, meanwhile, is coming off a decision win over Justin Willis last month,