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UFC heavyweights stop by Burbank

Mixed martial arts: Champ Dos Santos, challenger Overeem take part in media lunch at Morton's The Steakhouse.

March 28, 2012|By Grant Gordon

"People recognize me more on the streets," said Dos Santos, who owns 10 knockouts in his career, of how his life has changed since winning the belt. "I'm really enjoying everything that's happening for me."

Overeem was a mainstay in Japan's now-defunct PRIDE organization, a former K-1 Kickboxing champion and held both the Strikeforce and Dream heavyweight crowns before venturing into the UFC. He's fought just once, but knocked out former champion Brock Lesnar — the company's previous biggest draw — and his stock has risen drastically.

"Since I came to the UFC, since I fought Brock, definitely I've been more recognized on the streets," said Overeem, who's won eight straight bouts. "You get recognized basically everywhere you are."

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And with all the best heavyweights in the world quickly migrating from sibling company Strikeforce into the UFC, things will continue to get bigger and better on May 26 and beyond.

"[Now] you can say the best heavyweights in the world are in the UFC," Overeem said, "and that's true."

And on Wednesday, Dos Santos, who's won nine consecutive fights, walked away from Burbank as the UFC champion preparing to face his first challenge and hoping to walk away from his Las Vegas title showdown with his burgeoning reign intact.

"It motivates me," Dos Santos said. "I want to be the best for a long, long time. I'm living a dream."

Tickets for the event go on sale Friday and more information is available at ufc.com.

grant.gordon@latimes.

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