Strikeforce, which has shared owners with the UFC since March of this year, cut heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem at the end of July when a contract dispute got ugly. They then cut several more fighters managed by Golden Glory, Overeem's management team, last week as the dispute got uglier.
Former UFC heavyweight champ and MMA legend Bas Rutten commented on the situation via Twitter. He's a countryman of Golden Glory chief Bas Boon and star Alistair Overeem and maybe it shows:
First thing we heard was: "Dana said that it was the problem from GG management, that they don't want the checks directly to go to the fighters". But then there is suddenly a picture from Marloes Coenen's check on the Internet with her name on it, a check that she cashed herself.
Some will ask, "Why does GG do business like this?" Well, it's for their own protection of course, but it probably started because some checks from Japan started to bounce from some organizations. And if they didn't bounce, the fighters would be able to get them cashed 6 or 8 weeks later. Since fighters want their money right away, and GG loves their fighters, they said "No problem, we pay the fighters from our OWN money, pay their trainers and sparring partners, and then when the money comes in, we simply deduct everything from the check that is paid, this way everybody get's paid".
I know for a fact, 100% true, that they STILL need to get money from some organizations. The fighters got paid, but GG didn't because they paid the fighters out of their own money. And some people say that they are crooks? Please explain this to me, who else, what management, give me one name, does this?
So we know now why GG does this. And of course when GG heard that the UFC wanted to pay their fighters directly, and that they otherwise didn't want to do business, GG right away said "OK, no problem". And that's why you saw that check from Marloes Coenen popping up.
So what is the real reason then that they let the fighters go?\
The truth is, I don't exactly know, but what I DO know is that Alistair Overeem was in a beautiful spot. When he would win the tournament, his contract would be over and that would put him in a really good spot.
You heard from Alistair that he went into the Werdum fight with an injury, and that Scott Coker knew this and told Alistair he HAD to fight, and if he would do that for him, he would give him time to "heal up" after the Werdum fight. "No worries, late fall is gonna be the finals", is what was said to Alistair, his trainer and management
Now, they suddenly changed the date, I believe it was because it fell on the same day as another event, but whatever the reason was (it doesn't really matter), Alistair was promised late fall, NOT early September.
Now, the Big Foot fight, is probably the most important fight in his career, you don't think that he wants to be without injuries before he fights a guy like that?
Especially after fighting with an injury and not able to perform as usual. (he could have lost the fight against Werdum because of it).
"They don't like the management from GG", is what I have been tweeted by MANY fans, and you know what? It really starts to look like this now.
But, then some of you will say, "Kharitanov is still there, they didn't fire him and he is also GG". Yes, that's true, but that could be true because otherwise everybody would have known 100% that it's a "powerplay", (that's what they call it on the internet).
But, whatever the reasons are, the fans lose in this situation. Because the chances that Alistair is going to fight in the UFC now, are slim, and I don't know about you, but I would have loved to see Alistair versus Jr Dos Santos, two top strikers in an MMA match, hell yeah!
So let's hope it get's fixed!
Dave Meltzer also had some analysis of the situation in the latest Wrestling Observer (subscription required):
Details of exactly what happened are not clear, but Bas Boon at Golden Glory apparently figured that Alistair Overeem had a lot of leverage as Strikeforce heavyweight champion and the biggest star left and favorite to win the Grand Prix tournament and was making demands when it came to negotiations for a new deal. Those included wanting a PPV percentage and to be moved to the UFC side.
Problems between the two sides started when Overeem's management, Bas Boon and Golden Glory, and Overeem himself would not agree for him to fight on 9/10 against Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva in the semifinals of the tournament. Overeem had said that he did not have time for a complete training camp after taking time off after his win over Fabricio Werdum, to heal the broken toe. He agreed to the fight but asked that it be delayed a few weeks.
Showtime, which broadcasts all Strikeforce events, did not have an open date for October, between their own commitments to boxing, three Saturday's where UFC already had shows booked and not wanting to run the tournament semifinals against a potential World Series game.
But others have said Overeem's management were negotiating involving that date if certain unnamed demands were met, which led to Zuffa officials being upset when Overeem went public with the story in an interview with Ariel Helwani, blaming his not wanting to fight on that date due to his injury. Overeem at the time only mentioned a broken toe. Over this past weekend, Overeem put on the Internet an X-ray report showing the rib fracture. Still, those in Zuffa when talking about how the negotiations were going down, said the injury talk was disingenuous because they were making demands and were agreeable of him to fight if the demands were met. Plus, Overeem was booked by Golden Glory as the headliner on their own show in October in Moscow, Russia.
Overeem (35-11, 1 no contest) had one fight remaining on his contract. Had he taken the fight and beaten Silva, it would have given him a lot more leverage in negotiating a new deal since it would make the tournament look bad if someone worked his way into the finals and was champion was taken out over a financial dispute. But even then Zuffa would not have agreed to what they believed was a bad financial deal.
So what we've got is a classic failure to communicate. Golden Glory thought they had more leverage than they did and Lorenzo Fertitta, the man running Strikeforce now, didn't want to put up with their crap.
It's too bad as Zuffa's promise to fans that their acquisition of Strikeforce would mean fans would get to see ALL the fights they were dreaming of betweeen the world's very best is now shown to be an empty one.
Here's hoping they can work it out. From here it looks like Zuffa can't work with the best fight camps in Russia and Holland and if they can't do that, they aren't really bringing fans ALL the best fighters in the world.