Earlier today we brought you the news that Strikeforce heavyweight GP participant Alistair Overeem and Zuffa were on the verge of falling out over the timing of the semi-finals of the tournament, and unfortunately only hours later it’s emerged that the Dutch fighter has now been removed from it entirely.
Daniel Cormier will now step in to replace Overeem, while it’s unclear what comes next for ‘The Reem’ who is currently the Strikeforce heavyweight champion.
Overeem had stated earlier on the MMA Hour show with Ariel helwani that he had originally been told he’d be fighting in October, only for the promotion to announce September 10th as the date for his fight with Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva.
At the time of the interview Overeem indicated that Zuffa officials had already threatened to withdraw him from the grand-prix if he did not agree to the date, but the 31 year-old remained defiant and said he felt disrespected by the threats.
It appears that attitude has not gone down well with the powers that be and despite the fact that Overeem is the top draw left in the competition they have still taken the decision to withdraw him from it.
When all is said and done this would seem to be a move in which no one benefits.
Without Overeem, the man many had predicted as the eventual winner, the tournament now loses a lot of it’s luster, and any thoughts of the final potentially being Strikeforce’s first pay-per-view event can now be all but ruled out. Furthermore there’s now the risk that the promotion may lose one of their champion’s and biggest stars outright.
Meanwhile, despite his assertions that there are other promotions keen to aquire his services, this decision also damages Overeem’s fighting future. Aside from missing out on the chance to acquire another title he may now have also burned his bridges as far as one day becoming a UFC fighter.
With the Japanese fighting scene still struggling his future will no longer be secured competing for the likes of K-1 and DREAM, and with the UFC and Strikeforce holding the lion’s share of top heavyweight talent he now risks spending the rest of his career out of the spotlight competing against second-rate opposition.
Zuffa also risk a fan backlash here from those who feel that they have been heavy-handed in their approach to this matter. To be fair though it’s worth noting that Overeem has proven a difficult character for Strikeforce to deal with for a number of years.
After winning the Strikeforce heavyweight title back in 2008 Overeem then proceeded to spend the next two and half years fighting in Japan. When he did finally return he made only one defense of his title, and then after an expected fight with Fedor Emelianenko and Fabricio Werdum fell through in the second half of 2010 he once again turned his back on the promotion and headed back to Japan for the remainder of the year.
It appears he was threatening to pull a similar trick once again here, but the difference this time was that Zuffa are now in control of Strikeforce and appear to have laid down a zero-tolerance strategy to dealing with issues like this.