It didn't take long for Strikeforce to make up their mind regarding Alistair Overeem. Hours after he mentioned that he would not fight on September 10th and Zuffa had threatened him with removal from the Grand Prix, it came to fruition. Tatame first reported that Overeem was out and Daniel Cormier was in to take on Antonio Silva on September 10th:
Alistair Overeem, the Strikeforce heavyweight champion, defeated Fabricio Werdum at Strikeforce GP’s first round, but he’s no longer fighting at the tournament.
The fighter told MMA Fighting he wouldn’t fight at September 10th, and TATAME learned with sources close to the situation that he has been removed from the GP.
MMA Junkie then added a lot more detail, including the fact that Overeem had been negotiating a contract with Strikeforce due to only having one fight left on his deal:
However, www.mmajunkie.com has learned that Overeem was in the process of working out a new contract with the promotion, which may have contributed to his unwillingness to compete in September. It may also explain his recently expressed desire to challenge champion boxers Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko in a boxing contest – a strategy similar to the one Nick Diaz used to leverage his Strikeforce title into a shot at the UFC's welterweight belt.
They also have a quote from Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva:
"I don't care who they put against me," Silva today told MMAjunkie.com through his manager and interpreter, Alex Davis. "If Overeem doesn't want to fight because his toe is hurt, then get me King Kong. Get Josh Barnett and Sergei Kharitonov both. I'll fight them both at the same time.
"I'm very frustrated and disappointed that someone who is considered one of the best fighters in the world would basically withdraw from the competition and refuse to fight me. Overeem is a great guy, but I don't really like what he's doing right now as a fighter. Either way, I don't pick my opponents. I would have much rather Cain Velasquez stepped in for Overeem because I want to prove I'm the best heavyweight in the world. But I'm not taking Cormier lightly, either. I'll continue to train just as hard as if I was still facing Overeem."
This is clearly a gigantic blow to the Grand Prix, and the promotion. Overeem is still their heavyweight champion, and that will have to be addressed as well. I just don't understand why they delayed Josh Barnett's quarter-final fight so they could find an appropriate venue for him, yet they won't accommodate Overeem at all?
Update by Tim Burke: Dana White spoke to MMA Junkie regarding the situation:
MMA Junkie today confirmed with UFC president Dana White that the Strikeforce heavyweight champion is still under contract with the promotion and will return to action when a nagging toe injury is healed.
"Sept. 10 was the date Showtime wants us to go, so it's the date we've got to go," White said. "It's unfortunate that Alistair is unavailable, but situations like this are why there are alternates in the tournament."