Alistair Overeem knows his days as an elite heavyweight are numbered. However, the former Strikeforce champion isn’t ready to cut them any shorter than he has to.

Overeem will return to action this December at UFC on FOX 13 against Stefan Struve. “The Reem” is coming off a loss to Ben Rothwell that has his Octagon mark sitting at just 2-3.

“Sometimes you fall down, but you put in the work and you come back,” said Overeem, during a recent interview with “I’m 34 years old. If I would be injured, yes, maybe, but I still love what I do – I love working and improving.

“I’m an athlete, I’m a fighter, I’m a champion – this is what I do.”

Overeem (37-14) has had his issues since signing with the UFC and defeating Brock Lesnar in his debut. After a suspension for a failed drug test, Overeem lost via knockout to Antonio Silva and Travis Browne before rebounding with a decision win over another former UFC champion in Frank Mir.

As someone who once strung together a 12-fight unbeaten streak, Overeem knows what it takes to win fights.

“I enjoy winning and I put in the work to win,” he said. “However, winning is not just a matter of work; it’s a combination of factors: it’s your sparring partners, your coaches, your diet – it’s the whole package, even your personal life. In that sense, it’s a continuous building of a puzzle and I think that the puzzle is very good right now.”