On July 13, current Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem was apparently upset with the folks at Zuffa after being threatened by the promotion. According to Overeem, Zuffa officials threatened to release him from the “Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix” tournament, due to the fact he wasn’t willing to compete at the proposed September 10 date for the next stage of the event.
Overeem was obviously irritated by the way Zuffa reacted to his disapproval of the proposed date of the MMA fight against Antonio Silva, and he declared he wouldn’t fight for the promotion on September 10.
“What’s going to happen next, I don’t know,” Overeem said during an interview with Ariel Helwani on the MMA Hour. “I’ve had some threats of cutting me out of the tournament if I don’t participate. I don’t know if they’re going to do it. Personally, I don’t like to be threatened. If people start talking like that then be my guest, but then I’m really not going to sing to their tune. For them to unilaterally declare, okay, [September 10] is going to be the second round, which I never agreed on, and then threaten me if I don’t want it, it doesn’t really show a lot of respect,”
Later on during the day, Zuffa officials announced Overeem will be removed from the current Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, and replaced with Daniel Cormier, who is coming off an impressive win over MMA veteran Jeff Monson.
Given how dominating Overeem has been in the past few years, it’s surprising Zuffa has decided to take such a hard stance with their current Strikeforce heavyweight champion. Many MMA fans would love to see Overeem in the UFC’s Octagon someday soon, and this whole situation can’t be helping the process.
While I understand that an MMA promotion cannot afford to schedule its events based on every fighter’s personal calendar, Strikeforce’s inability to properly schedule events carries some of the blame. A little bit more diplomacy from Zuffa officials, and this whole saga could have been avoided.