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Alistair Overeem sounds off on Antonio Silva, Junior dos Santos and UFC 156

Overeem explains reason for not taking immediate title shot to appear on Super Bowl weekend card

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Alastair Overeem is seen octagon-side at UFC 148 Saturday, July 7, 2012 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

When Alistair Overeem decided to join the Blackzilians training camp earlier this year, the existing team members were thrilled by his arrival, with one notable exception.

Fellow UFC heavyweight Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva responded by leaving the Boca Raton, Fla.-based fight team. He cited the possibility of fighting Overeem as a reason for not wanting to train in his company.

“I think it was the stupidest thing on his part,” Overeem said Thursday. “This is a really good team with a really strong manager backing it and a lot of good people. I just don’t think it was a clever thing to do. I don’t even know where he’s training now.”

Silva reportedly moved 15 miles south to work with American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Fla. His first full training camp there resulted in a first-round TKO victory over Travis Browne at UFC on FX 5.

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Heavyweight fighter Antonio Silva gives a thumbs up to a fan during the press conference for UFC 146 in the lobby of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Thursday, May 24, 2012.

Now he’ll welcome Overeem, who’s not eligible to apply for a fighting license until next year because of a positive test for elevated testosterone levels, back to the octagon. Overeem and Silva meet in the co-main event of UFC 156, scheduled for Feb. 2 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Tickets go on sale Friday.

“I believe he left because he wanted to fight me first or something like that,” Overeem said. “Fine by me.”

Despite his strong words, Overeem insists he has no problem with Silva. A few barbs thrown by Silva failed to bother Overeem.

“Even if he was created in a lab, I can beat him,” Silva told MMAjunkie last month.

Overeem also said he didn’t ask to face Silva. The UFC offered him the fight and he accepted immediately.

Overeem had no qualms with facing Silva despite the fact that he could have waited for the winner of a UFC 155 title fight between Junior dos Santos and Cain Velasquez and received an immediate title shot.

“If I waited for Cain vs. JDS, it would probably be next summer already,” Overeem said. “It’s been a year since I fought, so you’ve got to consider ring rust. You need to have the experience to use fighting as much as possible. Being out for 18 months would not have been positive.”

Before the Nevada State Athletic Commission denied Overeem a license, he was scheduled to fight dos Santos at UFC 146. The two have developed a rivalry since the cancellation, often bickering through the media.

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Junior Dos Santos, left, and Alistair Overeem pose for photos during a news conference Tuesday, March 27, 2012 to advance the all heavyweight card at UFC 146.

Dos Santos remains the opponent Overeem wants the most, but he has his doubts about whether it will happen anytime soon.

“I want dos Santos to win so I can beat him, but I think Cain is going to take care of him for me, unfortunately,” Overeem said. “Junior is going to get taken down. He’s going to get ground-and-pounded.”

Overeem sure has a way of making friends in his heavyweight division.

“(Junior’s) been doing the zig-zag,” Overeem said. “He wants to fight me then he doesn’t, so then he fights Cain. I think he’s going to have his hands full with Cain. He’s going to lose.”

Silva has held steadfast with his desire to fight the former Strikeforce champion for nearly two years, something Overeem respects. The two were slated to meet in the semifinals of the Strikeforce World Grand Prix tournament, but an injury forced Overeem out and ultimately into the UFC.

He’s never shied away from the idea of fighting Silva. And he’s not going to start now.

“I just see him as a big guy who behaves in a certain way,” Overeem said. “I’m going to hit him as hard as I can.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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