LAS VEGAS – Alistair Overeem doesn't care what you think of his hulking physique. The UFC heavyweight doesn't care what you think of his fighting style. He doesn't care whether you like him or not.
The public can't get to truly know a man in short sound bites through the filter of the media, so Overeem has opted to largely forgo that path.
He's not interested in answering the same old questions – "What do you think of your opponent?" and "How was training camp?" will draw monosyllabic answers – and he's not going to apologize for that.
He has a documentary crew which films him, and those around him, and puts up the clips in 20-minute episodes on his website.
Those who care, he says, will get a sense of what he's really like by watching the documentary on his website, and not by reading, watching or listening to media reports about him.
"A lot of people ask him the same questions over and over, questions he's answered thousands of times," his manager, Glenn Robinson of Authentic Sports, said. "Most people ask him the same questions. 'How do you think your fight is going to go?' What kind of question is that? Of course he thinks he's going to win. That is more of a nuisance to him than having someone film him and post it. That's the real Alistair."
As an attorney would argue in court, Overeem's philosophy regarding such questions is, asked and answered.
There has been much speculation about Overeem's use of performance-enhancing drugs, which was only heightened when he failed a surprise test administered by the Nevada Athletic Commission last March.
Overeem insists he's clean and, frankly, doesn't care if the fans or the media believe him. He's over worrying about that kind of thing now.
He'll fight Antonio "Big Foot" Silva on Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in the co-main event of UFC 156, his first bout since his demolition of Brock Lesnar in Las Vegas at UFC 141 on Dec. 30, 2011.
At his licensing hearing in front of the Nevada Athletic Commission earlier this month, Overeem admitted that the nine-month suspension he was given for failing the March test was fair, though he didn't admit to cheating.
He stuck to his story that he was given substances by a doctor that caused him to have a dramatically increased testosterone to epitestosterone, or T/E, ratio.
He's been hounded by speculation of PED usage for more than five years, since he moved up from light heavyweight to heavyweight and built an overpoweringly large physique.
He's through defending himself on that issue, believing it's a no-win situation. He insists he's clean, and always has been, but feels he's not going to convince someone of that who is without facts but inclined to feel otherwise.
So Overeem has gone another route. He understands the importance of marketing – The more tickets he sells and the more pay-per-views people buy, the more money he makes – so he's come up with a plan to use his website to control the message.
He gives interested parties an intimate view of his life behind the curtains, where nothing, he says, is staged or filtered. It's also a cinematic film, not done with a handheld camcorder like so many fighters, and even UFC president Dana White do.
Overeem has invested much into the site. Why many others do not do so, he said, is simply a function of why they got into fighting in the first place.
A majority of fighters choose to become fighters, Overeem said, not because they dream of riches, but because of limited options.
"[Earning money] is not a good answer," Overeem said. "To make money, you could work in a grocery store. Why does a fighter become a fighter? Usually, fighters become fighters because they don't have education, because if they had education, they'd work in the bank. If they were clever and had education, they'd be doing other stuff.
"That being said, not a lot of fighters are that intelligent. It's kind of changing now. Fighters are getting more clever, but overall, people who are fighting are not educated."
The sign of a smart man is one who knows to ask for help when he needs it. Overeem befriended filmmaker Eldar Gross, who has produced his documentary series.
Overeem realized that he could use his site to bolster his image and market himself to an audience starving for information about him. Robinson said some of the parts of the documentary have gotten more than 100,000 views.
"The way Alistair strikes me is as a very professional person, methodical, and a very strategic thinker," Gross said. "Alistair is a very strategic person in the way he thinks and in the way he goes about things."
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Overeem admits that being away from the fight game for as long as he has – he's fought once in the last 18 months and has spent exactly two minutes, 26 seconds in the cage in that span – has hurt his marketability in some fashion.
He's confident he'll handle Silva on Saturday and believes that will in large part help him to overcome the absence from the public eye.
Though it hasn't been declared a contender's match, it's almost certain that if Overeem, as expected, defeats Silva on Saturday, he'll land a match with UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez next.
"If he beats "Big Foot", a fight with Cain would be huge," White said. "I think people would really be into that one."
There is some validity to the out-of-sight, out-of-mind philosophy, Overeem says. But he's also aware of the clamor about his return to a division which desperately needs his presence.
"There are two ways of looking at [how the layoff effected him]," Overeem said. "One way is, the title fight didn't happen and that did hurt me. But on the other side, everybody is now very anxious to await my return. The whole noise that was generated by the commission hearings [kept his name out there]. The last nine months have been fine. There has been no fight, but I'm training hard and I'm looking forward to the fight."
Overeem is unlikely to say anything of substance in public prior to the fight.
The true story, the place where he can be who he says he really is, will only be told on his terms.
"What I think a lot of people miss about Alistair is that all he really thinks about is how he is going to win his fight," Robinson said. "Everything else is superfluous and he doesn't care about it. He's the most diligent guy I've ever met when it goes to his work.
"He's extraordinarily dedicated in every way and feels the world will come to love him as his career moves on. But if you tell him, 'Hey Alistair, you've got to do this interview because people think this and that about you,' he's like, 'I don't care what they think. When I win, I win, and that's what matters.' "
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