(I know what you’re thinking, Alistair, and yes, that shirt is breathtaking. / Photo via Sherdog)
As we’ve seen so many times before in MMA, some fights only come together out of total desperation. When Alistair Overeem was booked against James Thompson for DREAM’s “White Cage” event in October 2009, we rolled our eyes at the prospect of yet another Japanese squash match. At the time, Overeem was steadily building his reputation as the scariest heavyweight outside of the UFC, while Thompson had suffered stoppage defeats in his last four fights. Why in God’s name would anybody think this was a good idea?
Well, nobody else would fight Overeem, for one thing. Also, Thompson had gambled away all his money and the bank was going to take away his ex-girlfriend’s house. Thompson explains the whole sordid affair in a two-part column with Fightland, which you can (and should) read here and here. Here’s an excerpt:
I was living in London and training at London Shoot fighters. Well, I say “training”; it was more like the idea of training that would quickly dissipate into nothingness at the sight of the bookies (gambling establishment) and that’s were you’d find me surrounded by other hopeless souls — human-ish males all queuing up to feed what little money they have into the never-ending abyss that separates you from much more than the money you feed in, in hope it spits more money (aka “hope”) back out at you. It wasn’t the best of times for me, to say the least, and the phone call I received next wouldn’t be improving said situation
It was from my ex (my fiancée now) Graz Merlino, aka the Merlean. I was in the bookies and winning, so at the time I was in a good mood, so I took the call (small note: Fellas, if you’re in a good mood, the chances of talking to your ex and that mood improving or even maintaining are slim to none). The Merlean started to explain to me that the bank had sent her papers saying they had mistakenly paid me too much money (which I’d gambled away), and since her name was on my account (part of a failed attempt to make it harder for me to gamble), they were now in the process of taking one of her assets, i.e., her house.
I don’t want to go into this too much as there’s no need, and it gets complicated, but the crux of the matter was the Merlean had tried to help me and now might lose her house because if it. We’d split up due to my gambling and I’d really put her though it—and when I say “it,” think about a shitter version of hell.