Alistair Overeem has admitted he didn’t see Fabricio Werdum becoming a champion in MMA, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been impressed watching “Vai Cavalo’s” rise.

As old school fans will recall, when Werdum made his way to PRIDE way back in 2005, the latter was primarily a ground specialist. At the time, Werdum was coming off consecutive Gold Medals at the IBJJF Jiu-Jitsu World Championships, and he wasn’t known for having a dangerous striking pedigree. How the times have changed.

Well, as you know, Overeem is scheduled to fight Junior dos Santos at UFC on FOX 17 tonight, and he’s hoping to score a big win and jump right into the title shot mix. While talking about Mr. Werdum with the media recently, Overeem had this to say (quote via MMA

“I still remember his first fight in PRIDE…,” Overeem said. “I never would have thought he would become a champion. He became a champion, so for me, that’s a great inspiration. Keep on going, keep the body healthy, keep motivated, keep positive, and great things will happen.”

Yup. Four years ago, when Overeem avenged his 2006 loss to Werdum by earning a decision win over him, no one was predicting the latter would end up where he is. Werdum has won six straight fights since doing so, and has entered the ‘greatest heavyweight ever’ debate. It’s indeed a testament to hard work and dedication.

UFC on FOX 17 will take place in Orlando, Florida.