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UFC 187: Mike Winkeljohn: I'd expect Arlovski & Overeem to fight each other for the title

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Coach Mike Winkeljohn of Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA weighs in on heavyweight teammates, Alistair Overeem and Andrei Arlovski facing each other and says Travis Browne never told the team he wasn't coming back.

Coach Mike Winkeljohn working with John Dodson
Coach Mike Winkeljohn working with John Dodson
Mike Winkeljohn

Tomorrow night, UFC 187 will kick off at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, and will feature a stacked card with two title fights and a veritable cornucopia of other intriguing fights. Of particular interest is the Andrei Arlovski vs. Travis Browne match-up, which has similar undertones to when Jon Jones faced Rashad Evans (minus the title being on the line).

If we take a trip in our Way-Back machine, we are reminded that Evans and Jones were once teammates at Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA, which created a training dilemma, since both were top contenders in the light heavyweight division. Emotions ran high, middle ground could not be found and compromise just wasn't in the cards. Rashad Evans left camp and found himself a new training family with the Blackzilians, of which he is a founding member.

Travis Browne once trained at Jackson-Winkeljohn, although his departure was a bit more mysterious than Rashad's. After his loss to Fabricio Werdum, he decided to try out Glendale Fight Club, home of UFC women's bantamweight champion, Ronda Rousey, but stated he would probably end up going back to Jackson-Winkeljohn for his official camps.

Browne ended up staying at GFC, but never really offered up an official "Adios" to the folks at his former Albuquerque training home. According to Mike Winkeljohn in an interview with Bloody Elbow, Browne never really told them anything regarding the permanence, or lack thereof, of his absence.

You know what's funny, he never really told us. He said he was just checking it out and stuff. I think he was just scared to tell us, honestly. -Coach Mike Winkeljohn on Travis Browne's departure from the team

"You know what's funny, he never really told us. He said he was just checking it out and stuff. I think he was just scared to tell us, honestly. We like Travis, but whatever. He's not on the team anymore, and Andrei's our guy."

Now that Alistair Overeem has claimed Jackson-Winkeljohn as his official training home, the criteria has been met for a similar training dilemma. Both Alistair and Andrei are top tier heavyweights under the tutelage of the New Mexico based camp. Coach Wink, as his fighters refer to him, says it's a good dilemma to have, and expects the two of them to end up fighting for a title one day.

"You know what? I'd honestly expect them to fight each other. I don't want to see anybody fight each other, but for the title, Hell yeah I expect them to fight. That's everybody's goal, so at that point in time, it's no longer a team thing, it's an individual thing. Everyone got into this to be the champ, and if you don't want that, then you need to get out. I would expect them to want to fight each other if one of them had the title."

That scenario presents a very unique and likely difficult coaching challenge, and one that Mike doesn't have a readymade solution to yet.

"I'll have to deal with that problem when I get there. I have to cop out on that question. Actually, I'll probably train the one that makes the most money [laughs]. No, I'm just joking. They're both great guys. They're both jokesters; Andrei with his dry humor and Alistair, who is just constantly up and happy. When they walk out of the gym, everybody is the best of friends."

Andrei Arlovski faces Travis Browne tomorrow night on the main card of UFC 187 at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Check your local television listings for time/channel information for the PPV.