As with any polarizing figure in the fight game, a certain degree of revelry could be felt among the mixed martial arts community following Alistair Overeem's surprising first-round knockout loss to Ben Rothwell at last Friday's UFC Fight Night 50 event in Connecticut.
The upset added another chapter to Overeem's increasingly anticlimactic UFC tenure, a run which began with so much promise, but amid three knockout losses in four attempts, plus a failed drug test to boot, has slowly devolved into somewhat of a running punch line for fight fans.
Nonetheless, at least one known antagonist of Overeem's didn't take much pleasure from seeing the big man fall farther down the ladder.
"I mean, it is what it is," UFC light heavyweight contender and Overeem's former Blackzilian teammate Anthony Johnson said on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "To me he looked fast, he looked strong at first, but I think he always starts that way, real crisp, and then he gets too comfortable and, you know, that's when all this happens.
"He's still one of the top heavyweights in the world, in my opinion," Johnson added. "I don't think they're going to get rid of him. I mean, he's still going to sell tickets. People want to see him either win or lose, you know what I'm saying? It's not like when Anderson (Silva) was fighting or GSP was fighting, when Chuck (Liddell) was fighting. They wanted to see those guys dominate somebody. With him, they almost want to see him get beat up now, because of things he's done or things he's said, or whatever. (He) got caught up with some stuff that just changed people's view of him."
Johnson's words ultimately proved to be prophetic, as later in the week UFC President Dana White told the panel at UFC Tonight that Overeem would maintain his place in the promotion for the time being and be given another fight. And true to his past assertions, Johnson reiterated that he wouldn't mind if the UFC approached him with a one-off opportunity to jump up in weight and settle his score with his former teammate.
"I'll fight him, I don't care. I've already trained with him before," Johnson said. "Why not? To me it's just a fight. If the fans want to see it, I'm down to do it. I ain't said no to any fight ever.
"I'd meet him at a catchweight," Johnson went on to propose. "If he wanted to meet me at 225, let's do it. Or whatever, 220, I'd do that. Or I'd meet at 230 at the dot, if he was down to go that far. Let's do it. Even if I fought him, it's a dangerous fight. He's still got weapons that are crazy. He was hitting Ben with some crazy knees. He's a dangerous fighter still, but I'd definitely test him."
Overeem weighed in at a brawny 248 pounds for his bout against Rothwell, so cutting down to the 230-pound limit may be a unlikely proposition.
Still, an unexpected and rather curious theme underscored a majority of Johnson's discussion regarding Overeem, in that, despite all of the public mud slinging between the two, Johnson was actually extremely complimentary of Overeem as a fighter, even going so far as to defend the heavyweight against the perception that he has a susceptible chin while acknowledging that he was happy for the success Overeem has achieved thus far in his career.
"I don't have anything against him as a fighter," Johnson explained. "I think he's a beast when it comes to fighting. My things were other personal stuff. It was never his abilities, it was never that. I support him as a fighter, go out there and whip some ass, man. Do what you do. Give the fans what they want to see, make your money, go live life.
"But other than that, that's when I had an issue with him. I read a comment about [Overeem saying I was jealous]. Dude, there is nothing in the world I'm jealous of about him. Nothing. So I don't know where he gets the jealousy stuff from, but if he feels that way, if he feels like somebody really wants to be jealous of him, then alrighty, you keep thinking that."