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Overeem's Title Prophecy Has Dutch Fans Poised for UFC Return

Overeem fulfilled his duty as national hero with a win over Arlovski in Rotterdam on Sunday night. He also began the countdown for the next Dutch show to the delight of the country's passionate fans.
Photo by Peter Carroll

Alistair Overeem made it no secret that UFC had told him that he would receive a title shot should he come away from their Rotterdam show with a victory.

Despite a somewhat tentative start to headline bout, the kickboxing legend's jumping head kick knockout of former champion Andrei Arlovski in the second round of their main event meeting certainly didn't throw him off course for a championship date.


The K-1 Grand Prix winner fulfilled his role as the national hero by winning the fight. Despite being born in England, 'Reem' moved to the Netherlands at the age of six.

The heavyweight did not just stop using his top bill position after his hand was raised though. While he may not have known if he had much of a support in the country before Sunday night, there is no doubt that his prophetic post-fight interview has gripped the fan base in the nation.

"We're going to get that belt in November in Madison Square Garden," he roared to the jubilant crowd after finishing a Dutch clean sweep on the night. "(Fabricio) Werdum, (Stipe) Miocic, may the best man win. I'm going to take on that winner and I'm going to beat that winner. And then next year, 2017, we're going to be defending the belt here in the Amsterdam Arena."

Passionate Fan Base

Overeem has now planted the mixed martial arts seed in the nation along with his fellow Dutch victors, Stefan Struve and Germain de Randamie.

Parallels can be drawn between the jubilant celebrations that followed his stunning second round victory to that of Conor McGregor's in Dublin over Diego Brandao back in July 2014. Ever since then, 'The Notorious' has been followed by some of the most passionate fans in the sport, and there will definitely be some additional Dutch interest in next weekend's heavyweight title fight following on from UFC successful maiden voyage in the country.


There was some concern that because of the country's rich tradition in kickboxing that they would not respond well to the grappling exchanges that go hand in hand with the sport. However, when Ulka Sasaki pulled off a guard pass in the curtain raiser against Willie Gates, a number of fans burst into applause, which quickly dismissed any of those thoughts.

The great swells of noise that overtook the Ahoy Rotterdam as de Randamie, Struve and Overeem finished their bouts rival anything I've heard at other events. Each competitor appeared to be genuinely moved by his or her ovations, having waited so long to walk out in front of their home nation under the banner of the world's flagship mixed martial arts promotion.

Countdown to Amsterdam

Over an hour after the event had finished, about 100 fans were still waiting in the arena hoping to get a glimpse of their Dutch heroes. The big UFC wins for the country was the talk of the town on Sunday night and already the Dutch are looking for more of a national presence to coincide with Overeem's premonition of Amsterdam 2017.

"We will be very nervous watching the fight in New York," said Dutch fan Johan Bos after the event. "I think the sport is really going to take off like it did in Ireland after tonight. The fans were very loud, maybe not as loud as that famous Dublin show, but if we had more Dutch fighters on the card it probably would have been louder.

"If the show happens in Amsterdam and Overeem fights for the title there will be even more people at the show. With more people and a few more Dutch UFC fighters, it could be the loudest events ever."

Even in Amsterdam on Monday, a taxi driver explained that the national sports bulletins on the radio "have been talking about it all day". Although he hadn't been aware of the sport until then, he was going to try and watch a replay and wanted to make sure he had tickets for the next show that comes.

Should Overeem's path to the title not be obscured and UFC do book the Amsterdam venue for 2017, it could be one of the most memorable nights in the history of the promotion. To host an event in such an iconic European city will suit the fan base, and based on the colorful backdrop they gave to the Rotterdam event you can be assured that they would add even more character to a fight card if the Amsterdam date is secured.

Based on how the Irish fighters were treated after their clean sweep in Dublin, it is likely that Overeem, Struve and de Randamie will always have a loyal following based on their actions that led to one of the most legendary nights in the history of Dutch mixed martial arts.