UFC Heavyweight Alistair Overmen’s prize for signing a contract extension with the UFC was the opportunity to headline the first UFC event in his native Netherlands. On Friday, UFC officials made it official by announcing that Overeem and Andei Arlovski will headline UFC Fight Night 87 on May 8 at Ahoy Rotterdam in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
Nothing wrong with that huh? Both are top heavyweight contenders with Overeem currently ranked #3 in the UFC Heavyweight ladder while Arlovski is at #6. But then what makes this match-up awkward is the fact that both fighters are teammates at the Jackson-Wink MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
When news of the fight first broke last Saturday, Trainer Greg Jackson said that he already has a set-up in place for two of his pupils. According to Jackson, both men will train at Jackson-Wink for their bout. However, both will have separate coaches and separate training schedules. As for Jackson, he told media that he will be in Arlovski’s corner for the fight:
“Usually I would step out, but Andrei is a special case.”
In the most high profile bout of two Jackson-Wink disciples, Jackson refused to corner one of his students, even if one of them was Georgest St. Pierre. St. Pierre was then defending his UFC welterweight title against Carlos Condit at UFC 154.
Overeem didn’t react to Jackson’s statement. However, during the UFC Fight Night 847 Q & A after the bout’s formal announcement, Overeem drew the battle line between him and Arlovski:
“We didn’t actually train together. You can count [the times] on one hand; maybe two. We don’t socialize, we’re not friends, we don’t train together. There’s respect, of course, he’s a teammate. There’s not much of a relationship. That’s also why I’ve fought teammates in the past. I don’t have problem with fighting Andrei, who’s not my friend. He’s my teammate.”
It’s normal for two fighters to put whatever they have (or had) together on the sidelines for a fight but for Overeem to say he didn’t train with Arlovski may be incorrect.
Remember when the Belarusian Pitbull claimed that Overeem purposely hurt him during a sparring session in 2014? Maybe Reem is correct, they only sparred maybe two times, and that was because Arlovski didn’t want to get injured in sparring. Anyway, regardless of how many times they sparred against each other, Overeem tweeted this photo in 2014, supposedly to squash their beef over the incident:
— Alistair Overeem (@Alistairovereem) August 24, 2014
Well the two may not spend weekends having barbecue together, but for them and some friends to watch UFC on TV together does say something. Unless of course, this was just a scripted photo op to make things look fine at Jackson-Wink back then.
We don’t really care what relationship these two have (or had) but the fact that Overeem has distanced himself from Arlovski means that he’s damn serious about winning this fight. After a roller coaster start his UFC career, the former Strikeforce Champion has won three fights in a row, including a 2nd round TKO of former Heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos in his most recent outing last December 19. A win over Arlovski could make him the #1 contender:
” I expect when I beat Ander, I will fight for the title next.”
Re-signing with the UFC was the right move for the Reem as he’s never been this close to the UFC gold since beating Brock Lesnar during his UFC debut. However, he’ll have his hands full with Arlovski, who before losing to Stipe Miocic last month, had a six fight winning streak going for him.