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Alistair Overeem on injuring Jon Jones in sparring: ‘I feel terrible’

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Even before Alistair Overeem was knocked out (technically) by Ben Rothwell at UFC Fight Night 50 at Foxwoods, there was a dark cloud hovering over him for taking out a valuable teammate during training camp.

While sparring at Greg Jackson’s gym in Albuquerque with current light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, "Bones" tore the meniscus in his knee and suffered a high ankle sprain when Overeem landed on him awkwardly. This all put the hotly anticipated title bout between Jones and Daniel Cormier -- slated to take place at UFC 178 on Sept. 27 -- on the backburner until UFC 181 in January. 

Though by all accounts the injury was an accident, Overeem -- who only recently joined Jackson’s to prep for Rothwell -- was being indirectly blamed for the postponement and raining on everybody’s parade. Even UFC president Dana White openly questioned why Jones would be training with 6-foot-4 Overeem in tuning up for a 5-foot-10 wrestler, telling Jim Rome, "how does that make sense?"

Overeem appeared on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour, and when host Ariel Helwani asked him if it felt unfair for that knowledge to become public -- and indeed, if there were gym codes being violated for bringing such details to light -- the Dutch heavyweight said the facts are the facts.

"It was the truth, so what are you going to do?" Overeem said. "Anybody can say the truth. It is what it is. You cannot make it any more nice, right? If somebody asks anybody in the gym what happened, ‘hey what happened with Jon,’ ‘yeah he was warming up with Alistair’…I mean, should they lie about it or something? It was the truth. That’s what happened, and there was no foul play, it was not intentional, it was just a very unfortunate accident."

Jones and Cormier got into a brawl during staredowns at the initial UFC 178 press conference in the MGM Grand lobby, which only served to blow the fight up even more. But just as that rivalry began to turn into must-see theater, Jones suffered the injury while sparring with the ’Reem.

When asked if there were any hard feelings between him and Jones after the injury, Overeem said not at all.

"Never has been," he said. "And I felt terrible man, because I was looking forward to that fight. Of course obviously [Jones]’s had a great career, he’s a great athlete, but I also like him as a friend. So, you never want to do that to your buddies that are your teammates, because you feel terrible."