UFC fighter Overeem charged with battery

Ultimate Fighting Championship star Alistair Overeem has been charged with one count of misdemeanor battery stemming from an incident at Wynn Las Vegas over New Year's weekend.

If convicted, the heavyweight title challenger faces a maximum of six months in the Clark County Detention Center and not more than a $1,000 fine.

According to the District Attorney's office, Overeem is scheduled to appear in court at 8 a.m. on Feb. 21.

A citation issued by Las Vegas police stated at about 3 a.m. on Jan. 2, Overeem pushed or shoved a woman in the face, "causing her to stagger back."

Overeem has retained famed Las Vegas defense attorney David Chesnoff.

"Alistair was not arrested, but was summoned to court," Chesnoff said. "There are two sides to this story and we intend on vigorously defending this. Alistair maintains his innocence."

Overeem, 31, was in Las Vegas after knocking out Brock Lesnar in the first round of the main event of UFC 141 at the MGM Grand on Dec. 30.

The win, which came in the UFC debut for the former Strikeforce and Dream heavyweight champion, set up Overeem to fight champion Junior dos Santos for the UFC heavyweight belt this year on a card yet to be announced.

Representatives from the UFC declined to comment on the matter.

■ JOHNSON WINS UFC DEBUT -- Lavar Johnson isn't much of a basketball fan, but even he could appreciate his surroundings after winning his UFC debut with a first-round knockout of Joey Beltran on Saturday at the United Center in Chicago.

"It's a big arena. Chicago is a great city. I had a good time here," he said. "To be able to perform where Michael Jordan played, it's an awesome experience."

Johnson, 34, was brought over to the UFC after Strikeforce recently announced it will drop the heavyweight division. He was just happy to be employed after two consecutive losses to end his Strikeforce run.

"I really needed to win. I had two losses and that doesn't really sit well," he said. "You're only as good as your last fight, no matter what."

Johnson earned $65,000 for the knockout of the night against Beltran. He said his aggressive style is the reason he got the promotion, despite the lack of recent success.

"I always try to go in and put on a good show for the fans and I guess it paid off. I think I've always put up a good fight whether I won or lost," he said.

It would take more than a couple of losses to faze Johnson, who took three stray bullets during a family gathering in Bakersfield, Calif., on July 4, 2009. He spent more than a month in the hospital and lost more than 40 pounds.

The only way things could have been better for Johnson on Saturday was if his journey had culminated in a different NBA arena.

"If I watch (basketball), I do cheer for the Lakers," he confessed. "I'm a West Coast guy for sure."

■ UFC 143 EVENTS OPEN TO PUBLIC -- Fans are invited to attend both the open workout and news conference in advance of UFC 143, which takes place Saturday night at Mandalay Bay.

The open workout Wednesday, featuring all six fighters from the top three fights on the card, will be held inside the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Doors open at 11 a.m., with the workouts to begin at noon.

Nick Diaz, who will fight Carlos Condit for the interim welterweight title in the main event, will be part of the first group, along with Las Vegan Roy Nelson.

Welterweight contender Josh Koscheck will appear at 1 p.m., with Nelson's opponent, heavyweight Fabricio Werdum. Mike Pierce, who fights Koscheck, is scheduled at 2 p.m., along with Condit.

Thursday's news conference, which includes all six fighters and UFC president Dana White, begins at 1 p.m. at Mizuya Lounge inside Mandalay Bay.

There was one change to Saturday's card as former Bellator welterweight Henry Martinez will step in for injured Jorge Lopez to face Matt Riddle. The bout will be part of the FX-televised portion of the undercard.

Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5509.


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