UFC St. Petersburg’s Alistair Overeem has revealed his longtime friendship with opponent Alexey Oleynik ahead of their fight this Saturday night.
Both Overeem and Oleynik have lengthy MMA careers, so it’s not surprising the two men have crossed paths before. However it hasn’t been against each other in the cage, although that will change this weekend, it has been helping each other prepare for fights in the past.
Overeem appeared on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour to explain his friendship with Oleynik.
“Alexey and I, we have a little bit of history,” Overeem said. “We’re actually okay together, we’re friends. I like him a lot. I helped him on his Cro Cop several years ago, 2013, and then he helped me for the Frank Mir fight (in 2014 at UFC 169). And then he signed with the UFC, so I kind of knew somehow, somewhere that we might end up fighting again. To me, it’s not a problem, because we’re not teammates and it’s been years ago [since] we helped each other, so it’s fine. I kind of know what to expect. He’s tough, a veteran fighter. He’s got a sneaky submission game.”
“The Reem” also spoke about the future of the UFC heavyweight division. With champion Daniel Cormier’s next challenger looking uncertain, Overeem knows the division is in quite a messy state.
“Rankings are rankings — you’ve got to see what happens,” Overeem said. “Brock, is he coming back? That’s a weird situation, coming back and fighting for a title after what happened there. Cain, yeah, is Cain even still fighting? … He didn’t look good in his last fight, with all due respect. Didn’t look good, didn’t look on a diet. I don’t know.
“So we’ll see what happens. I’m just focusing on my training, on making sure that everything around me is good.”
UFC St Petersburg takes place this Saturday, April 20th, at the Yubileyny Sports Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia. Overeem vs. Oleynik will headline the card.