In a move that’s sending shockwaves around the sport it has emerged that Strikeforce have cut their heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem with one fight still remaining on his contract.
The decision comes after Overeem and Strikeforce fell out over the date of the fighter’s next bout in the semi-finals of the heavyweight grand-prix. Overeem had claimed that he was originally told that the fight with Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva would take place in October, and so when it was suddenly switched to early September he stated that was too soon and wouldn’t give him enough time to prepare properly and heal from some nagging injuries.
Overeem’s apparent refusal to fight, and veiled threats that he was now considering a fight outside the promtion in October and a potential switch to boxing at the end of his current contract did not go down well with Strikeforce’s new bosses Zuffa, and it soon emerged that ‘The Reem’ was no longer participating in the tournament.
Afterwards UFC president Dana White insisted that Overeem was still a Strikeforce fighter, but earlier this week in an interview with MMAfighting’s Ariel Helwani, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker stopped short of confirming that he’d be back fighting for the promotion, stating that they would have to sit down and talk with Overeem’s management team.
Barely a couple of days later it’s now emerged that Zuffa have taken a hard-line stance and removed Overeem from the roster entirely. The ‘Inside MMA’ show on HDNet were first with the scoop, and interestingly they claim that he was in fact cut over a week ago on the 22nd of July.
In the hours since the news broke Overeem has released the latest edition of his ongoing ‘The Reem’ video blog which casts new light on the situation, documenting what’s happened since his victory in the quarter-finals of the grand-prix, and then offering proof at the end of the episode that he has a broken rib which he claims is the real reason he had to pull out of the tournament.
While Zuffa’s decision to release Overeem will seem heavy-handed by many it should be pointed out that this latest falling out was the latest in a series of behind-the-scenes issues relating to their champion.
Overeem initially won the Strikeforce heavyweight title back in November 2007, yet rather than defend the belt he then made the decision to fight elsewhere for the next two and a half years.
When Strikeforce were eventually able to entice him back he notched up his first title defense and then, despite claiming that his main focus was now MMA, he again jumped ship to compete in the K-1 World Grand-Prix and Dynamite!! 2010 events.
Those decisions would have sorely tested the patience of any organization, but Strikeforce and Scott Coker remained patient and appeared to be onto a good thing when he signed up to fight in the heavyweight grand-prix.
In the time since the UFC’s parent company Zuffa have bought the promotion however, and with Overeem once again upsetting the apple-cart they have made it clear they have a no-tolerance approach to the Dutch fighter’s antics.