Thanks to Alistair Overeem, Dave Sholler risked his life for nothing. Because UFC 178 was all but ruined when Jon Jones suffered a torn meniscus and sprained ankle while the two were training together. Just like that, a wet Dutch blanket fell over all the momentum that was building between the champ and his perpetually bewildered opponent Daniel Cormier.
According to their coach Greg Jackson, it was an accident.
“It’s part of the game, it wasn’t like … somebody went for a flying kick and dislocated [something],” Jackson said. “Somebody went for a takedown, [Jones] stepped the wrong way, twisted the wrong way and down he went. He was fighting it, and he just twisted it. And then it just popped.”
But is Jackson being candid? Bear in mind, this is the same man who told Jones to “get some fans” by circling back to check on a recently unconscious Lyoto Machida after Jon walk-off strangled him at UFC 140. So it seems as though his fighters’ individual interests may, shall we say, trump the interest of public transparency. And a number of Alstair’s current and former training partners are accusing him of intentionally hurting his teammates. The most recent is Andrei Arlovski.
In a recent interview with tribuna.sports.ru, the Pitbull said Overeem sent him to the hospital during a training session a couple days ago. They were preparing for Andrei’s September 13th fight against Bigfoot Silva in Brazil.
“Well, I’m not big on telling tales out of school, but there is some truth to these words,” he said. “Couple of days ago I sparred with Overeem and learned such outcome by my own experience. Usually sparring partners don’t try to inflict a real damage to each other. But Overeem at one moment kneed me really hard in the stomach. In a real fight I could have been KO’ed after that.”
“I rushed to a hospital to make sure that my ribs are not broken. Thank God, everything was all right, though initially me and my coach, we were afraid that Bigfoot bout would have to be cancelled. It was really unexpected and so dirty that I wanted to have my revenge on him at first, at least elbow him. But my boxing coach Andrey Ivchuk who was next to me at the moment calmed me down: ‘Don’t you go as low as a guy who is fond of such dirty tricks.’ As you see, it is very important to have a wise coach. Now I know that Overeem injured Jones simply because he injures everyone he trains with.”
The Belarusian’s story has an accented ring of familiarity. Three months ago, former Blackzilian teammate Gilbert Burns said the Reem was routinely “beat up” by teammates Anthony Johnson, Rashad Evans and Vitor Belfort. According to Burns, Alistair didn’t like that. “He was cocky,” he said. And around January 2013, Overeem engaged in a regrettable sparring session with UFC heavyweight Guto Inocente.
“It was kicking his a**,” Inocente said. “And he took me down. Unexpected.” Inocente already had a broken hand, and he was recovering from a recent knee injury. The surprise takedown blew out the other knee. And just like that, Overeem left Boca Raton, Florida.
“Thank God he left the team,” Burns said.
A few days ago, Anthony Johnson corroborated the bullying storyline during an interview with Fighters Only Magazine. “. . . I know the man and when he was here he was always hurting somebody,” he said. “Accidentally on purpose. And it ain’t because he’s clumsy.”
“He ain’t clumsy, he would just hurt you.”
So unless some mass conspiracy is building against the Incredible Growing Man, Overeem is an insecure sadist. But none of his accusers have any personal knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the Jones injury. And so, the regrets of past experience butt up against the assurances of Coach Greg Jackson. One thing is certain, though. The strategic mastermind had better start working on a new plan. Because pretty soon, Alistair Overeem is going to need some more fans.