Originally from Hounslow, England, Alistair Cees Overeem spent most of his life in Holland. Along with his older brother, Valentijn Overeem, Alistair was brought by his mother to Holland at age 6 after she and their father divorced. Alistair’s interest in combat sports began at 15, when Valentijn took him to a gym to learn self-defense. Overeem’s first time in combat sports competition happened in a 1997 kick-boxing bout, under K-1 rules. His first professional kick-boxing bout was in March 1999 with a decision win over Paul Hordijk. Another first happened that year: he fought in a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) bout that October against Ricardo Fyeet, winning by a first round submission. His second MMA fight happened with Japan’s Rings organization. Although he lost the decision to Yuriy Kochkine, he was offered a Rings contract. In his second Rings fight, he defeated Chris Watts by TKO. Overeem had several fights in the Dutch promotion 2 Hot 2 Handle. Later in his first fight with Pride Fighting Championships (2006), he defeated Yusuke Imamura by TKO within a minute. Overeem would enjoy two more victories in Pride, before a knock loss to Chuck Liddell in 2003. Overeem recovered from the defeat with victories in 2 Hot 2 Handle and Pride, but would get submitted by Maurício Rua in his third bout during the 2005 Pride light-heavyweight Grand Prix. Overeem’s first fight for Strikeforce (2009) happened at the 2006 event named “Revenge,” where he won a unanimous decision over Vitor Belfort, an opponent whom he had previously defeated in Pride. It was his last win before Overeem would endure a career setback–later attributed to “private circumstance”–by decisively losing to three successive opponents in Pride: Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Ricardo Arona, and Maurício Rua. Although he had intended to start his career at light-heavyweight then become a heavyweight, it was these losses that Overeem permanently moved to heavyweight. He said it was due to difficulties in cutting and maintaining weight as a light heavyweight fighter. However, his massive weight and muscle gain lead to speculation among some fans that it was the results of using banned substances. Furthermore, the speculation was compounded by his lengthy absence from the American-based Strikeforce (2009),with allegations by that he was avoiding American athletic commissions which conducts stringent testing of fighters not present in Japan and Europe. In 2007, Overeem returned to competition as a heavyweight in two mixed martial arts bouts held by K-1 with a win then a loss–submitting Michael Knapp then getting knocked out by Sergei Kharitonov. Despite the loss, Overeem was invited for a second Strikeforce (2009) fight, putting him against Paul Buentello at the 2007 event “Four Men Enter, One Man Survives” to crown its first heavyweight champion. Overeem won the Strikeforce heavyweight championship after submitting Buentello by knee strikes in the second round. Due to the non-exclusivity of Strikeforce’s contracts–and the dearth of opponents in its heavyweight division at the time–Overeem fought in the Japanese organization Dream, which has a business relationship with Strikeforce (2009). In Dream fights held in 2008, Overeem defeated Tae Hyun Lee, Mark Hunt and fought Mirko Cro Cop Filipovic to a “No Contest” as a result of illegal groin strikes by Overeem. The winner may have faced Fedor Emelianenko however the fight’s outcome removed it from consideration. That year Overeem fought in Ultimate Glory with a submission victory against Gary Goodridge. A month later in December 2008, Overeem fought Badr Hari in a K-1 kick-boxing fight. A rivalry had developed between Hari and Overeem after Overeem’s Dream 6 fight with Mirko Cro Cop Filipovic. Hari, who was in the audience, entered the ring thereafter and challenged Overeem to a kick-boxing fight, which Overeem refused. Instead, Overeem wanted to fight Hari under MMA rules, which Hari declined. That December at the 2008 K-1 World Grand Prix Final, Hari was disqualified for illegally attacking Remy Bonjasky on the ground in a kick-boxing fight, making Bonjasky the tournament champion. It was Overeem who then challenged Hari to a mixed martial arts fight, however, Hari wanted a kick-boxing bout. Overeem decided he would face Hari first in kick-boxing, if Hari would agree to a later MMA fight, which Hari accepted. They fought later that month at Dynamite 2008!! in Saitama, Japan, where Overeem earned his biggest K-1 kick-boxing victory at the time by knocking out Hari in first round. In March 2009, Overeem lost a K-1 decision to Remy Bonjasky. After losing to Bonjasky, Overeem withdrew from a scheduled MMA title fight against Fabricio Werdum at the 2009 event Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg (2009), due to a hand injury sustained in an altercation at a club. This furthered his absence from “Strikeforce” and invited further criticisms–with suggestions that company founder and CEO Scott Coker should crown a new Strikeforce (2009) heavyweight champion. Overeem returned to competition in September 2009 as a kick-boxer in the K-1 World Grand Prix 2009 tournament. Despite his decision loss to Remy Bonjasky earlier in the year, he was selected in a fan vote to compete in the K-1 World Grand Prix 2009 Final 16 in South Korea. He won the decision over the legendary Peter Aerts, also of Holland. The following month he had a second MMA appearance in Ultimate Glory where he submitted Tony Sylvester. A few days later at Dream 12, he submitted James Thompson. In December he resumed the K-1 competition and knocked out Ewerton Teixeira to meet Badr Hari again in the semifinals. Hari won the rematch by a first round TKO, ending Overeem’s prospects of winning that year’s K-1 World Grand Prix Final. A few weeks later, Overeem returned to MMA, and fought at “K-1/Dynamite!! Power of Courage 2009” against Kazuyuki Fujita. He won by knock out in the first round. After Fedor Emelianenko signed with Strikeforce and defeated Brett Rogers at CBS Strikeforce M-1 Global Saturday Night Fights (2009) in November 2009, he was considered to be Overeem’s first title challenger. However a renegotiation of Emelianenko’s contract by his M-1 Global management company put a stop to speculations of a title fight with Overeem. In the ensuing months, Strikeforce (2009) made a controversial decision and declared Brett Rogers– after losing his last fight to Emelianenko–the contender for the title held by Overeem. A month before fighting Rogers, Overeem competed at the the K-1 World Grand Prix event in Yokohama, knocking out Dzevad Poturak in round one. At Strikeforce: Heavy Artillery (2010),Overeem dominated Rogers to win by technical knockout in the first round. Soon after, Overeem was in attendance at Strikeforce M-1 Global: Fedor vs. Werdum (2010), where the bout between Fedor Emelianenko and Fabricio Werdum would determine Overeem’s next title challenger. Overeem looked forward to a victory by Emelianenko, whom he had publicly challenged several times. After what was considered a significant submission upset of Emelianenko by Werdum, uncertainty loomed after Werdum’s elbow surgery removed him from competition for the remainder of 2010. Further complicating matters were Werdum’s suggestion he was more interested in a rematch with Emelianenko than a title fight with Overeem, whom he defeated by submission in a 2006 Pride fight. Meanwhile, Emelianenko–who had one fight left with Strikeforce–entered into further contract negotiations, leaving his return date uncertain. After nothing became of a proposed Dream bout between Overeem and Ricco Rodriguez, Overeem committed himself to compete in the K-1 World Grand Prix kick-boxing tournament. In October, he defeated Ben Edwards at the K-1 World Grand Prix 2010 Final 16 in South Korea to advance to the 2010 K-1 World Grand Prix tournament at the Ariake Coliseum in Tokyo, Japan. In a competitive first fight, Overeem won the decision over Tyrone Spong. Overeem then got by Gokhan Saki in the first round due to injury. Within 67 seconds of the final bout, Overeem hurt legendary K-1 fighter Peter Aerts leading to a fight stoppage and being declared the 2010 K-1 World Grand Prix Champion. Overeem made combat sports history by holding major championships in kick-boxing and mixed martial arts. Overeem successes would continue as he remained in Japan for his second MMA fight that year. At “K-1 Dynamite!! Power of Courage 2010,” Overeem won Dream’s interim heavyweight championship by knocking out Todd Duffee in 19 seconds.