If UFC President Dana White is to believed, heavyweight star Alistair Overeem is currently running scared from former champion Junior Dos Santos.
Reporting on last night’s edition of ‘UFC Tonight’ on FOX Sports 1, Ariel Helwani revealed that White had recently spoken to Overeem about the possibility of fighting JDS in the main event of an upcoming event in Brazil.
White says Overeem turned down that bout, and then also backed away from an offer to do the same fight as a co-main event at a later date in Las Vegas instead.
“He wants nothing to do with dos Santos,” White is said to have told Helwani. “He’s literally hiding from JDS … but he had no problem calling out Brock Lesnar who hasn’t fought in 2 years and who is in WWE.”
Since the story broke Overeem has responded, claiming that the reason he’s not accepted the fight is that he’s nursing an injury.
“I’m hurt,” Overeem told MMAfighting.com. “Rib problem. So first [I] need an ETA on recovery time. [It] would be unwise to accept any fight before knowing exactly what’s up. [I] wouldn’t want to pull out of any fight [due to] being unfit, especially an anticipated fight as this one.”
Overeem’s arrived in the UFC in 2011 with a wave of momentum after having won the Strikeforce, K-1 and DREAM titles, but his time in the UFC so far has been far more turbulent.
It started off well enough with a swift TKO victory against Brock Lesnar which set up a major title fight against the aforementioned Dos Santos in 2012. However, the fight was scrapped after Overeem failed a pre-fight drugs test due to elevated levels of testosterone, and after serving his subsequent suspension he then suffered a two-fight losing streak, losing by KO to both Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva and Travis Browne.
He’s since got back in the win column with a decision victory over Frank Mir at UFC 169 earlier this month, but his cautious, safety first gameplan was openly criticized by White after the event.
Meanwhile, Dos Santos’ career has hit a bit of a stumbling block too, with Cain Velasquez proving to be his nemesis, handily beating him twice now in the space of a year to remain at the summit of the division.
Sandwiched in-between that he did earn a ‘Fight Of The Night’ bonus for KO’ing Mark Hunt though and he’s still widely considered to be the second best heavyweight in the division.