Alistair Overeem is focused solely on Friday’s UFC Fight Night 50 showdown with Ben Rothwell, but he can’t ignore the fact a fight with former Blackzilian teammate Anthony Johnson might be imminent.
Ever since Overeem (37-13 MMA, 2-2 UFC) departed from the Florida-based fight camp earlier this year, Johnson (18-4 MMA, 9-4 UFC) hasn’t spoke fondly of his interactions with “The Reem.” He has called Overeem a poor training partner who did not fully commit to the “team” aspect of the training environment.
Overeem spent one fight camp in Thailand following his exit from the Blackzilians, but he’s now found a comfortable home with Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA in Albuquerque, N.M.
The situation came to a head this past month when news surfaced UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones was out of his highly anticipated UFC 178 grudge match with Daniel Cormier as a result of an injury sustained training with Overeem.
Johnson was very vocal about the incident in the media. He accused Overeem of being someone who hurts training partners “accidentally on purpose,” and he then proceeded to call out the former Strikeforce, DREAM and K-1 kickboxing champion to a future showdown.
Overeem had initially avoided replying. However, he recently told MMAjunkie that the bold statements from “Rumble” stem from jealousy.
“(He said that out of) jealousy,” Overeem said. “I can’t think of any other explanations. I have no relationship with the guy.”
Overeem wouldn’t elaborate on what exactly he meant by “jealousy,” but he said he doesn’t care to investigate why Johnson seemingly holds a grudge against him. Moreover, if Johnson has grievances to air, Overeem doesn’t understand why he can’t attempt to share them in a private setting.
“All this talking to the media? I don’t get,” Overeem said. “Where I come from, if I have a problem, I’m coming directly to you and I’m asking you what’s up. For me, that’s like p-ssy behavior. Maybe I’m missing something and I’m just crazy. On the other hand, I do feel honored people are saying my name in the media. It must mean I have some sort of importance.”
After hearing comments from both sides, perhaps the best way to resolve the situation is inside the UFC octagon. The big sticking point, though, is the fact Overeem competes in the heavyweight division while Johnson is in the midst of a strong run toward a title shot at light heavyweight.
Johnson fought at heavyweight as recently as this past year, and Overeem has spent time at 205 pounds in the past, though he hasn’t had an official contest in the division since 2006.
Overeem’s attention is on Friday’s bout against Rothwell (33-9 MMA, 3-3 UFC), which serves as the FOX Sports 1-televised UFC Fight Night 50 co-main event at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Ledyard, Conn.. However, he can’t deny Johnson has jumped into his crosshairs for the future.
“I have different priorities right now, but I could definitely see that fight happening in the future.”