Throughout the buildup to their main event bout at UFC Fight Night Rotterdam, Alistair Overeem and Andrei Arlovski insisted that they were never close despite sharing the same facility at Jackson-Wink MMA.
Still, having future opponents training under the same roof can be a tricky situation to navigate. For his part, Overeem said he did his best to ease any potential tension, and that consideration carried over into the postfight scene following his second-round knockout triumph on Sunday, as the Dutchman halted his celebration to kneel beside his fallen foe in a moment of mutual admiration.
“Not a lot of words [were spoken], but there was a handshake, there was respect. We looked each other in the eyes,” Overeem said at the post-fight press conference. “Obviously this was not a good moment; it was not good for the team. I’ve done the best I could to keep the energy positive, not to disrupt anybody. I think the respect is there. It’s not gonna be gone. We’re obviously gonna see each other in the gym. There’s no bad vibes.”
Moments earlier, Overeem made jaws drop when he floored the ex-heavyweight king with a jumping front kick to the chin and a left hook. A final barrage of ground-and-pound brought an end to the bout 1:12 into the second round. While the kick was unexpected, especially for a man that size, Overeem insisted that his time in the same gym with Arlovski didn’t give him any kind of strategic edge.
“We do a lot of study. The team does a lot of study. Obviously we trained together a couple times but it was really once or twice, so there was not much to get from there,” Overeem said on Fox Sports 1. “I just gained so much confidence from my study. We have a great team of coaches that are very positive, creative and we study and we find holes and we exploit them.”
In his post-fight interview in the Octagon, Overeem called for a championship matchup against the Fabricio Werdum-Stipe Miocic winner when the UFC debuts at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 12. Even if that doesn’t come to fruition, the former Strikeforce titlist believes his time as UFC No. 1 contender has arrived, regardless of date or venue.
“I believe the road is open. I believe the next fight will be for the UFC heavyweight title,” he said. “The preparation for that fight will commence this week. I’ll probably take two or three days off.Tuesday I’ll be back in the gym working my butt off for that title.”
Even though Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn were in Arlovski’s corner in Rotterdam, Overeem expects to reunite with the entire team in Albuquerque, N.M., when it comes time to prepare for his next fight.
“I have a great relationship with the coaches. We spoke to each other that we’re going to pick up where we left off right after this fight,” he said. “I expect to be back in the gym in no time because I’ve got to get ready for the big one, of course. I’ll be back there. I tried my best to keep everything positive. You do what you can.”