RIZIN CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara is interested in working with heavyweight mixed martial arts legend Alistair Overeem.
Overeem, the former DREAM, Strikeforce and K-1 heavyweight champion, has spent the recent years of his illustrious career fighting for the UFC, but was released by the promotion earlier this week.
While it remains to be seen where Overeem will land after his UFC exit, RIZIN is an option that was quickly suggested by many fans on social media—and Sakakibara seems interested.
I asked RIZIN boss Nobuyuki Sakakibara about potentially signing Alistair Overeem. Here's what he has to say: pic.twitter.com/QPVCyRs5Fg
— Tom Taylor (@TomTayMMA) March 4, 2021
“I think Alistair has taken a tremendous role in building the sport both here in Japan, and all over the world,” Sakakibara told Tom Taylor. “I remember going to Holland to sign [his brother] Valentijn Overeem, and saw a 17 year old Alistair in the gym and decided to sign him on the spot.
“Correct me if I’m wrong, but I do believe he made his professional debut in Japan in at the Korakuen Hall under THE BEST promotion in a hexagon ring agains Takada Dojo’s Imamura,” Sakakibara continued. “Crazy matchmaking now that I think of it, but that’s where his career started. He was still a skinny kid. But I still remember that impact when I first saw him at the gym in Holland.
“With that being said, I do have a soft spot for Alistair and if he desires, I think it would make sense for him to retire in Japan,” the RIZIN boss continued. “We will be kicking this year off with the RIZIN 27 event on March 21st in Nagoya, but we do plan to have around 7 events this year, obviously ending it at the Saitama Super Arena on [New Year’s Eve]. Maybe that would be something that could make sense. He would obviously need to understand the current Japanese market and his value for all of this to happen though. He should do us an old friend’s favor and fight for the amount he made his debut in like old times.
“All jokes aside, I would have no problem working with him if the numbers make sense for us, and I’m sure there will be many fans who would want to see him end his career in Japan.”
Alistair Overeem last fought in February, when he was stopped by Alexander Volkov. That loss was preceded by a pair of wins over Walt Harris and Augusto Sakai. He’s now 47-19 overall.
Prior to competing in Strikeforce and the UFC, Overeem spent many years fighting for the defunct Japanese promotion PRIDE. Sakakibara was the co-founder and president of that organization.
Would you be interested in seeing Overeem compete in the RIZIN ring?This article appeared first on BJPENN.COM