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The Blackzilians: Thumbs Up Or Thumbs Down?

It’s been a rough stretch for Imperial Athletics, which is better known around the MMA water cooler as the Blackzilians.

The camp, based out of Florida, saw heavyweight contender Alistair Overeem fall to Antonio Silva, ex-UFC champion Rashad Evans lose to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, and Melvin Guillard announce his departure.

Of course, it hasn’t been all bad, as Anthony Johnson took out Andrei Arlovski, and Tyrone Spong scored a recent K-1 victory in impressive fashion.

So, how does 2013 rate so far for the Blackzilians, let’s take a look.

First, the good news:

– Vitor Belfort defeated Michael Bisping and earned himself a match with former Strikeforce champion Luke Rockhold. Two main event spots in Brazil are a big deal for “The Phenom,” but the news he was granted TRT for the Bisping bout, and will likely be allowed to use it again vs. Rockhold, places a cloud over the win and fight.

– Spong, who has dabbled in MMA, finished off Remy Bonjasky with a nasty right hook in England, improving his kickboxing record to 69-6-1. He’s won his last five bouts, including a victory over Melvin Manhoef last year.

– Johnson won his fifth straight after moving up to heavyweight and picking Arlovski apart in the main event of World Series of Fighting 2. His issues with weight have been well-documented, but “Rumble” appears to have found a home at light heavyweight.

– Another bright spot for the team is Abel Trujillo, who defeated Marcus LeVesseur last year and will meet ranked lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov in May.

Now, we’ll take a quick look at what has gone wrong as of late for the camp:

– Overeem not only lost his opportunity to compete for the UFC heavyweight title when he was finished by Silva, he suffered an injury and will not be able to finally face Junior dos Santos in May. The former Strikeforce champion appeared to look smaller than previous fights, and lost a lot of energy vs. Silva. He’ll need to make a strong return to get back into the crowded heavyweight division.

– Evans will have a quick rebound fight, as he takes on Dan Henderson this summer. A win over “Hendo” would place “Suga” right back in talks for a title fight, as his name brings fans galore to whatever event he fights on. Still, that performance vs. Nogueira will be hard to get out of the minds of many.

– Eddie Alvarez hasn’t lost a recent fight like Overeem and Evans, but he hasn’t been able to compete, either. Alvarez remains tied up in a legal battle between Bellator MMA, the UFC and his own team as they try and work something out. Sitting on the sidelines will do nothing to help Alvarez become the top lightweight in the world.

– Guillard, Siyar Bahadurazada, JZ Cavalcante, Ryan Jimmo, Claude Patrick, Michael Johnson, Matt Mitrione, Marcos Aurelio, Jorge Santiago, Dion Staring and Thiago Silva have all had losses in their most recent bouts – or no-contests due to failed drug tests. Not a good sign for a camp that is still trying to grow.

With all that, you have to go with a C-minus. The team has had a few shining moments, but, for the most part, it’s been bad news after bad news after bad news for the Blackzilians.