For quite some time, when MMA fans heard the word “Florida”, they likely thought of the renowned American Top Team and it’s Coconut Creek based gym. More recently, however, Boca Raton’s Blackzilians team has entered the picture, thanks to the violent efforts of men like Vitor Belfort and Rashad Evans, amongst others.
So is there a rivalry between the two camps? Since they’re located not far apart? Or because the Blackzilians were created by former ATT fighters like Jorge Santiago and “JZ” Cavalcante?
Well, the Blackzilians’ Michael Johnson was asked to weigh in on this very subject recently while appearing on MMA Junkie.com Radio. The former TUF competitor, who is set to fight ATT’s Gleison Tibau at UFC 168, stated:
“We’re all friends, kind of,” said Johnson, while discussing the relationship between the two schools . “We’re all cordial. There are mutual friends between me and Tibau. But you can say there’s definitely a rivalry for the best MMA school in Florida, which we are.”
“They like to think they’re better,” he said before laughing. “So they can keep thinking that.”
Aside from the ATT vs. the Blackzilians angle, it will be interesting to see how Tibau-Johnson plays out. Tibau is one of, if not the promotion’s biggest 155’er and a BJJ black belt as well. This is likely why the athletic Johnson relayed he doesn’t want to be under Tibau “at any point.”
As a refresher, Johnson is coming off a one sided, UD win over Joe Lauzon in August, while Tibau worked his way to a split over Jamie Varner in his last outing at UFC 164.
UFC 168 will be hosted by the MGM Grand Garden Arena on December 28th.