MMA title contender Alistair Overeem opens up about his life as a gamer

At UFC 141, Alistair “Demolition Man” Overeem became one of the biggest names in mixed martial arts by not only defeating former heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar with a TKO, but forcing him into retirement. Thankfully, gamers won’t have to wait until his heavyweight title bout against reigning champ Junior dos Santos in May to see Overeem in action.

The Dutch fighter is available as a free DLC character for THQ’s UFC Undisputed 3, which is in stores now. Overeem, who loves videogames, was at CES in Las Vegas with Qualcomm the past January to play the new Fight Game Heroes mobile game that he’s featured in on the new Snapdragon processor. Overeem talks about his favorite games and discusses going virtual in UFC Undisputed 3 in this exclusive interview.

What videogames did you play when you were younger?

I was the generation that was brought up with the Super Nintendo and Sega so I played all the famous fight games like Street Fighter, Double Dragon, Mario, and even Samurai Showdown. Later on when the Nintendo 64 came on the market I played James Bond Goldeneye a lot. I have played on so many consoles that it’s hard to pick a favorite game but I like shooters and strategy games very much. For example, I still like to play Command and Conquer: Generals on the PC and Gears of War, as well. Other titles I like to play include the Grand Theft Auto series and soccer games against my friends.

What’s a favorite video game memory from back then?

I don’t know, I have so many great memories of games, but the game I have perfected has to be Command & Conquer: Generals. I have played that game so much, and I have to say I’m pretty good at it.

What do you think of how far video games have come since then?

It’s insane if you look at the development of games in the last 10 to 20 years. When I played Samurai Showdown on the NeoGeo, I was sure at that time that it was almost impossible to make better games but I had the same feeling when I played WipeOut when the PlayStation came out—I was blown away. But now, if you look back at those games you can clearly see that the graphics are not comparable with the new generation of games, even today’s mobile games. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that I played those games back then thinking that it will take years and years to beat such a game on a graphical level, but within months there always is a new game or a new technology that raise the bar to a new level.

At CES you were able to check out some new mobile games at Qualcomm’s booth. What are your thoughts on that Fight Game Heroes game?

To give you the same example, if you look at the graphics that the Snapdragon processor provides in this game and realize that it’s made for smartphones or tablets, it’s amazing to see that they have found a way to make such a game for such a small device. The Snapdragon processor is almost the size of a peanut and produces high quality graphics and the game is amazing. It is unbelievable how technology gets better and better these days. Fight Game Heroes is a very easy and accessible game that can be played by everyone, and therefore I like it and play it.

You’re a new featured fighter in UFC Undisputed 3. What’s it like to go virtual in that new game?

I have to admit that I have not had a chance to play it yet, but I saw some footage and it looks great. When I signed with the UFC, the production of the game was almost finished so they added me as a downloadable character.

What role do you feel these new UFC videogames play in helping to promote your sport?

It’s huge. Back in the days only young kids played videogames, but now that generation has grown up, and they are still playing video games as adults. I still play with my friends, so the demographic is pretty big. Having a great game will help promote the UFC. There are still people that play the UFC game and don’t even know it’s based on a real league. So now you can see if you can get crossover fans from each world come together. UFC fans are going to buy and play fight games with their favorite fighters, and gamers are going to watch the UFC fights because they played the game. So it crosses demographics.

How important are the new tutorials in the UFC 3 game that explain the intricacies of your sport to helping new fans find UFC, especially with the Fox broadcasts?

Very important because it’s a pretty difficult game to begin with, as there is much more going on that what the eyes see on TV. Still a lot of people think it’s just two tough guys in the ring or cage fighting it out, and they don’t realize the variety of the sport yet. There are so many techniques you can use to finish a fight that has been shown in the game very well. Submission and certain striking techniques are explained very well and give you a good idea of what we, as fighters, need to train every day.

Pride makes a comeback in UFC 3. Who would you like to face off against in Pride and why?

That’s a difficult question since I now fight at heavyweight, and during my career in Pride I was middleweight. I would have to say at middleweight, Shogun. I like him a lot as a fighter and a person but he beat me twice, so I would love to avenge that loss. At heavyweight, I would say Fedor, although he’s not in the game he still was considered the best heavyweight in the Pride era years ago.

Gamers can pick their own team and work out in actual team gyms in the new game. How important is the team concept for MMA?

It’s a nice element they put in the game. Having a good team is very important for a fighter. You can’t train yourself; you need to have sparring partners to work with and coaches who guide you. So it’s something you need as a fighter if you want to perform at the highest level.

(Check out our interviews with Jon Jones and Wanderlei Silva, then check back with us on Monday for an exclusive interview with Gina Carano)

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