One of the big stories from the past few weeks has been the UFC and Strikeforce release of fighters from Golden Glory gym, including Alistair Overeem, Valentijn Overeem, Marloes Coenen, and Jon Olav Einemo. We've heard from Dana White and Scott Coker on this issue, plus opinions and analysis from Dave Meltzer and Bas Rutten, but so far, Golden Glory themselves have remained relatively silent.
Now, we have some comments on the situation by outspoken Golden Glory head Bas Boon, who spoke to Fighters Only about this issue, and has a lot of interesting information to add.
At the heart of this dispute seems to be the structure of fighter payments, with Golden Glory insisting that payments be made directly to them, while Dana White states that the payments must go to the fighters. According to Dana, they could not come to terms on this issue, and so the fighters were released. In his statement, Boon says that since the Zuffa buyout, their fighters have been paid directly (including Einemo, who fought in the UFC), but that this was not their original deal with Strikeforce:
The problems with Strikeforce was that we made some agreements with Scott [Coker] which were creating headaches now Zuffa took over.
The fighters were paid in the previous Strikeforce bouts to an account of the management without any problems, yet UFC claimed this was impossible.
He also points out issues with Zuffa forcing out some of the Strikeforce sponsors, which cost his fighters sponsorship money:
[T]he fighters were loosing sponsors as the UFC took over Strikeforce as they implemented their new rules. If you can sponsor the fighter you should sponsor the organization first.
I understand this from a business point of few, but some companies can't effort to pay 100K or more to an organization. And some fighters getting 5 or 10K in sponsorship is were they actually can make some good money. We just wanted the things as they were before, but it was far from what it was before.
But perhaps the most interesting part comes when Boon discusses the working relationship he had with Coker prior to the Zuffa purchase:
Behind the scene I was preparing a great deal for corporation between Strikeforce, Dream, K-1 and Glory to do something great together with Scott ( this included a tv channel and footage deal). I introduced Scott thru a partner of mine in LA to some powerful people in the US (Scott was very surprised after this meeting and exited and mailed me after his meeting with these people how impressed he was). I never could have guessed that at the same moment I was talking to Scott to make a massive move for becoming a real competitor to the UFC, Scott was already talking with the same UFC for selling Strikeforce.
There has already been mention of the fact that Golden Glory is looking to increase their MMA promotion through their expanding United Glory division (which is run by Martijn de Jong, not Boon), and speculation that this desire to expand into UFC markets may have played a part in the releases. If Boon was working with Coker to try and put together a group of organizations to become a true competitor to the UFC, you can see why Dana would be less inclined to keep promoting the Golden Glory fighters.
As to the future, Boon remains optimistic, hoping they can work things out. He is also explicit about the terms he is willing to negotiate (emphasis added):
We did not have a choice and never said we would not fight in the future or that we would refuse to work like this in the future (we worked out that problem with the Zuffa lawyer in the Vancouver and even agreed with their new sponsor policies). Maybe there is a miscommunication and Danna was not well informed that the direct payment issue was solved and no longer an issue as I myself have been in and out hospital for two weeks because of heath issues ( the reason why this press release is so late).
Anyway we regret the response from Zuffa and the releases, but it is their company and they can do what they want, we would like to keep working in the future with the UFC and with this statement I cleary say that direct payment to any of our fighter was not a problem and will not be a problem in the future.
We just want to be able to produce great fighters and create great fights for the fans, we have no intention for Co-promotion deals and are even willing to make an exclusive deal for Alistair Overeem to fight in the UFC, if the terms are right.
At this point, I find it hard to imagine Dana bringing the Golden Glory fighters right back into the Zuffa fold, but hopefully this leaves the door open for at least Alistair Overeem to return down the road.