Tuesday evening, I got an alert on my phone telling me that Jon Jones has pulled out of UFC 178 due to a knee injury. “Guarantee you it was during wrestling,” I muttered. Next day, Jon Jones’ head coach Greg Jackson tells Sherdog that, sure enough, Jones tore his meniscus (and twisted his ankle) while defending an Alistair Overeem takedown. O joy, o glee, I was right. Yet another great fight that the Injury Bug has stolen from us.
But then yesterday (Friday, August15th), Blackzilian Anthony “Rumble” Johnson gave an exclusive interview to Fighters Only that spins things in an entirely different light. You see, Johnson revealed that when his former teammate (“Well, actually, not a teammate, but he used to be over here,”) was training in Boca Raton, FL, “The Reem” would bully the other fighters and regularly injure his training partners:
I know the man and when he was here he was always hurting somebody. Accidentally on purpose. And it ain’t because he’s clumsy, he ain’t clumsy, he would just hurt you.
This was a major bomb. In the past, when you talked about Overeem’s deep dark secret, you were talking about his “horse meat” addiction.
But now, there’s the sudden worry that perhaps he’s also a bully who enjoys damaging his “friends”. This seems surprising. I mean, you’d think that at least one of his previous camps would have mentioned this before. When he left Golden Glory, declaring them to be stealing from him, they never once fired back with “At least we don’t sadistically attack people trying to help us.” When he parted ways with the Blackzilians earlier this year, the most condemning comment we heard was that he would block himself from the rest of the team and work with his own coaches. Not once was there a hint or suggestion that anyone felt unsafe when he was on the mats.
This left me scratching my head, until I realized that I was missing a horribly crucial piece of the puzzle: why the Blackzilians were created. Strap on your tin-foil hats, folks, because this is when things get messy:
Ostensibly, the Backzilians were created in 2011 when four of the men, managed by Glenn Robinson, decided to leave American Top Team. No one ever knew about the camp, though, until Rashad Evans’ departure from Jackson’s Winklejohn’s MMA in Albuquerque, NM. And why is it that Rashad Evans left his long-time home? Because of the feud begun with Jon Jones.
And now I think you may start to see the shadows of the machinations afoot. The Blackzilians exist for the sole purpose of dethroning Jonny “Bones” Jones from atop the 205lbs mountain. It began innocently enough: Evans needed a place to train where he could prepare to defeat this young upstart who had swagger-jacked him. He fell short, though, unable to defeat the new breed of champion that had arisen.
Publicly, Rashad graciously admitted that he lost to a better man that night, but inside the theft of his camp, his friends, and his belt must have eaten away at “Suga”. He became the Ernst Stavro Blofeld to Jones’ James Bond. Rashad began growing the camp, reaching out to new fighters, trying to better prepare for the eventual rematch he knew was in his future. One of the first big names to join his ranks was the now infamous Overeem. Back then, Overeem was an enormous acquisition from the Strikeforce merger who had a cloud of steroid allegations following him. In early 2012, Overeem tested positive for testosterone, and was suspended.
Not long after this, Vitor Belfort joined the Blackzilians, and became friends with Overeem. In a short time, Belfort revealed that he had begun taking testosterone, as well. I was baffled by The Phenom’s decision. Why would a man who had just threatened Anderson Silva for the UFC Middleweight title need to inject himself with a performance enhancing drug? The “logical” answer the powers that be want you to believe is that Belfort was an aging fighter trying to stay competitive in a tough 185lbs division.
The evidence couldn’t possibly support this. After moving to the Blackzilians, Vitor received a title shot, but it wasn’t at Middleweight. No, Belfort was granted a shot at Jon Jones’ Light Heavyweight strap. The answer has only just now become clear to me: he was under insidious orders from Rashad Evans.
By this point, Evans was clearly only interested in seeing Jones lose his title, regardless of to whom. He had decided that he would use Belfort as his emissary, but Vitor was too small. With Overeem’s knowledge of the drug testing process, they were able to find work-arounds to allow Vitor to quickly gain the necessary size to bump up a weight class while still retaining the speed necessary to threaten Jones.
Rashad’s plan worked perfectly: Vitor made it into the title fight, and managed to armbar Jones in the very first round, hyper-extending his arm badly. Just one problem: Jon Jones refused to tap. He apparently decided that he didn’t really need that arm, anyway, and that he could do without it. He was right. Belfort ended up tapping to a Americana in the 4th Round.
Evans must have raged at fate for denying his master plan from coming to fruition. How could he possibly ruin Jones’ reign? He had tried matching skill vs. skill, but had fallen short. He tried using Belfort to match skill vs. steroids, but that had failed as well. Clearly, more unconventional means would be necessary. If Jones couldn’t be defeated within the eight-sided cage, then his fall would need to take place when he was vulnerable. The realization caused Evans to launch Operation: Trojan Horse Meat.
Rashad needed to plant a sleeper agent within Jones’ inner circle, capable of waylaying the champion when he least expected it. It would be a difficult mission, fraught with danger and the possibility of being ostracized by the MMA community for his actions. The answer was obvious: Alistair Overeem. Who else had as much experience ignoring allegations of misconduct and doing as he pleased?
It would be a long-con, though. There’s no way that Overeem would be allowed to just wander into Jackson’s Winklejohn’s freshly tanned from Florida. No, they would need to orchestrate a public split that was believable. Overeem began bringing in his own coaches and hanging up curtains in the gym to segregate himself from the other fighters. He began dropping hints about his displeasure with the way the gym was run. He found a way to strain tensions with everyone he could. Before long, he out-and-out left. For his last fight, against Frank Mir, he went to Thailand to train, eschewing all connection with the Jaco Hybrid Training Center the Blackzilians called home.
Having successfully broken ties, he was now free to “look for a new gym”. Before long, Overeem “found his new home” in Alburquerque, and proudly joined the Jackson’s Winklejohn’s gym. He integrated himself into the team and made friends, doing everything he could to make himself invaluable. Before long, he found himself in the exact situation he had been sent to exploit: training with the hated Jon Jones, working on their wrestling.
As most MMA fans know, the majority of training camp injuries happen during wrestling practice. Name me a knee injury that’s occurred, and 9 times out of 10, I’ll show you a guy who was trying to defend a takedown and just posted wrong. The situation couldn’t have been any more perfect: Overeem was asked to help the champ prepare for an Olympic wrestler, he had to go full bore. He wouldn’t be a responsible training partner if he didn’t. And so it happened. One torn meniscus & twisted ankle later, and Jones was compromised.
The most brilliant piece of manipulation in all of this is Johnson’s “revelation”. It provides a previously-unknown history of misconduct, allowing Evans to disavow all connection to this plot. The Blackzilians’ hands are clean of this crime. It was a perfectly executed plot.
“If Joe Silva called me up and offered me that fight, yeah, I’d take that and knock his head off… Alistair Overeem is the right guy (laughs). I’d love to knock him out. And I’d do it with a big smile on my face too.”
Or, you know, it could just be that Rumble is using this opportunity to say outlandish things so he can keep his name in the headlines as he’s waiting to sign his next fight. But that explanation is so much more boring.
*Conspiracy Theory Alert’s are fictitious works of satire.*