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What exactly is the message UFC is sending to MMA fighters with their handling of Alistair Overeem?

By Zach Arnold | July 20, 2011

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YAHOO! SPORTS’ Iole on Zuffa dumping Overeem from Strikeforce HWT GP from Steve Cofield on Vimeo.

Steve Cofield & Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports/Cagewriter.com fame had an interesting discussion about the message Zuffa is sending to fighters in wake of their cancellation of Alistair Overeem from the Strikeforce GP tournament. Alistair Overeem said that he wanted to fight in October, Zuffa & Showtime had a September date. Now, Dana White says his problems with Lyoto Machida & Alistair Overeem will ‘blow over.’

STEVE COFIELD: “I do think that Dana White & Zuffa needed to send a message to Strikeforce fighters because I do believe that the scheduling in the past has gotten, it was a little ridiculous. Some of the fighters, I think, took control of things and took advantage of being able to push fights back and I think they need to lay down the law and say, hey, we have a schedule here and, you know, even if you’re a little dinged up you’re going to have to fight sometimes.”

KEVIN IOLE: “Yeah, I mean, there’s a fine line, you know, I think every fighter goes into a fight hurt. If you want to say they got aches & pains, they got bruises, they got this, they have that, there’s a lot of things that go on. Now there’s a difference, do you have a broken foot in your foot, can you bare weight on that foot, can you kick with it, are you going to do any damage to yourself going forward? But there’s always going to be aches & pains that come with fighting. You hear guys talk about it all the time, Steve, and you have to realize that this is becoming a big business. It’s no longer a mom & pop thing and just a small little thing, it’s now a big business and we have major televisions networks involved in these things and they have to run. It takes 8 weeks to promote these things for the television networks, they have to get all their marketing materials done and get everything out, get into the TV guides and then if guys pull out for really little reason then it really throws a big monkey wrench into a lot of things. So, the fighters need to make themselves available as best as they can. I don’t want to sound like I’m criticizing fighters because I’m not. I think the guys largely do a great job of doing that but in this particular case, you know, not knowing the extent of Overeem’s injury, we’re at a loss but it doesn’t sound like it was the most significant injury that Overeem’s probably ever had.”

STEVE COFIELD: “Do you think there are fans that are actually angry with Zuffa, with Dana White, with UFC over this?”

KEVIN IOLE: “Well, I think there’s a large segment of people out there who don’t like Zuffa, who don’t like Dana White, and for whatever reason that’s their choice. I don’t begrudge them that. I think as a result, they apply all this to them and they’re going to take the opposite side, the anti-Zuffa, the anti-Dana White side and that’s their choice. But I think fans are probably going to be upset in the future when they see Daniel Cormier fighting instead of Alistair Overeem. Cormier is a good prospect, but was he one of the top guys in Strikeforce? Well, if he was one of the top 8 guys, he would have been in it at the beginning. I think, you know, maybe if this had been held this time next year, he would have been in from the start. You know, so it’s disappointing to see it happen. I think there is going to be a little bit of a backlash, but if the fights are good, here’s what we remember — if the fights are good, if Cormier gives a good performance, if there are good fights on that night, I think people will forgive and forget.

(later on)

“Overeem is a great personality and he’s a guy that I think is an entertaining fighter, but he is largely unknown to the U.S. The hardcore fans know him and so they’re going to get upset and say, “We know who he is!” The hardcore fans know him but the hardcore fans make up less than 1% of the fan base, less than 1%. So, they’re marketing to a much bigger audience out there that doesn’t include the guys that are, you know, on the forums all day and posting and reading all these posts. And Overeem to that larger public is very unknown. Steve, he needs to be fighting on Zuffa-televised events and get his name out there because he’s got a great personality, people would love him when they get to know him. But he’s got to give himself a chance and talking about going into another sport is just going to lessen the impact you’re going to make in MMA.”

Topics: Media, MMA, StrikeForce, UFC, Zach Arnold | 48 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

48 Responses to “What exactly is the message UFC is sending to MMA fighters with their handling of Alistair Overeem?”

  1. 45 Huddle says:

    Cofield said it best in the first paragraph:

    “I do think that Dana White & Zuffa needed to send a message to Strikeforce fighters because I do believe that the scheduling in the past has gotten, it was a little ridiculous. Some of the fighters, I think, took control of things and took advantage of being able to push fights back and I think they need to lay down the law and say, hey, we have a schedule here and, you know, even if you’re a little dinged up you’re going to have to fight sometimes.”

    The fighters walked all over Scott Coker and Strikeforce.

    Telling your boss that you want a tournament that has already been delayed, to delay it even more because you are the only fighter of 4 who can’t adhere to that schedule is comical.

    Iole said: “Well, I think there’s a large segment of people out there who don’t like Zuffa, who don’t like Dana White, and for whatever reason that’s their choice.”

    I think it’s a very vocal minority of fans, not a large segment of them. Go to a live UFC event, and the fans love Dana White. The casual fans… The ones who make this sport profitable, love Dana White. It’s a faction of internet fans who don’t like him.

    And Overeem is right now one fight away in the UFC from being back to the status he was in Pride…. A Gatekeeper…

  2. Jason Harris says:

    The thing with October? It just doesn’t work. There’s a UFC event almost every weekend and the a SHO boxing event on one of the open weekends.

    Literally the only open weekend in Oct is the 22nd, and that is the week immediately following the SHO boxing fight. So there is a lot of evidence to support that September was the only date they could do a show.

  3. larrycraig2 says:

    I’m a little confused about Dana White’s roll in all of this.

    Isnt Dana White a part owner of the UFC? And doesnt Zuffa own the UFC? Does Dana White actually have a position in Zuffa? Is Dana White part owner of Zuffa as well?

    Btw, of course 45Huddle sides with Zuffa and believes that the vast majority of people like Dana White. If Dana White murdered someone he would definitely claim self defense without even knowing the facts.

  4. LOL how they treated Overeem isn’t over. If he ends up with a UFC contract and never fights in Strikeforce again, which is probably what happens, then what? Is it a sign of weakness, or do we ascribe that as being the UFC flexing brand strength or something?

    I’m sure Showtime is really stoked to be paying money out to Zuffa and not even getting viewership back out of it now that Overeem is gone. I love reading interpretations like these.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      Showtime has nothing to complain about.

      There is no way Zuffa is breaking even on the Fedor/Henderson card.

      Showtime got that card for a steal.

      • smoogy says:

        Zuffa losing money isn’t the same as Showtime saving money. Those are their two highest paid MMA fighters, and a portion of their purses is reportedly paid out directly by Showtime.

        • nottheface says:

          In addition, Henderson’s large purse for this fight included his bonus for finishing the contract and winning the LHW belt. I am sure it was amortized for the year and not for this single event.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          smoogy,

          If you get a brand new Mercedes for the price of a baseline KIA… Are you telling me you wouldn’t be happy?

          Showtime is getting a MUCH better card then they are paying for…

        • The only thing that matters to Showtime are the fights they’re airing, and as far as that goes, I don’t see them booking Scott Smith/Tarec Saffedine or Daley/Woodley as being “Mercedes Benz” fights.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          Fedor/Henderson is worth far more then anything Showtime is paying right now.

          And they know it. Which is why they are already pulling back on their promotion of MMA. They know they can’t afford the caliber of cards the UFC is offering.

        • Alan Conceicao says:

          They’re also paying for Fedor/Henderson…and I mean to each guy personally out of their own pockets based on the deals constructed for them. And I’ll be surprised right now if it does a bigger number than the Overeem headlined card. I’m also pretty sure that fight was in the works even before Zuffa took over Strikeforce, so its not like its a situation where they should thank their lucky stars Sean Shelby showed up to make super fights for them.

    • nottheface says:

      Yeah, it doesn’t quit add up that Strikeforce compelled Strikeforce to hold the next round in September instead of October when there are two free dates and they are risking pissing off their subscribers by being inflexible. Nor does it quit add up that Zuffa is sending a message about fighters sticking to their schedule by moving up the date of the card thus giving the fighters 3 and not 4 months to be ready than expecting their premiere fighter in the Grand Prix to comply, no questions asked. But it wouldn’t be Iole if he actually put in any thought into what is actually going on.

      • edub says:

        It doesn’t add up at all, unless you see things the way “you want them to be”.

        Overeem fought a month ago, and suddenly he’s walking all over Strikeforce because he’s not ready to train yet? Give me a break.

        Anybody who actually sides with Zuffa here (believing everything that has come out) doing the right thing here that’s not just a casual fan is stupid. Plain and simple.

  5. smoogy says:

    STEVE COFIELD: “Do you think there are fans that are actually angry with Zuffa, with Dana White, with UFC over this?”

    KEVIN IOLE: “No, Steve, nobody is upset with Zuffa over this specific issue. If they’re upset, it’s because of an irrational hatred for Dana White and all things Zuffa, which they harbor for vague, ethereal reasons I can’t begin to imagine.”

    Iole sure knows how to keep it real. Less than 1% of MMA fans read forums and have opinions on what they want out of their MMA products? Really?

    • 45 Huddle says:

      You obviously are not attending live UFC events or going to the local bars and checking out the real fanbase…

      • smoogy says:

        Do you have some kind of gaydar to detect which ones are the shameful posters of messages on forums who actually know something about the sport?

  6. I think the bottom line is that this isn’t just about Overeem not fighting in September. It’s about Overeem being under contract with Strikeforce and only fighting for them twice. As others have pointed out, fans have short memories when it comes to Overeem and how difficult it’s been for Strikeforce to pin him down in the past.

    Dana letting loose on him in the media is part Dana being Dana, but also sending a message to him that he’s dealing with Zuffa now. The bottom line is that it’s not that you’re going to have to fight hurt, it’s that you’re going to have to actually fight and make them a priority over your other international commitments if you want to earn a paycheck from them.

    • smoogy says:

      Overeem has fought in Strikeforce four times now.

      • 45 Huddle says:

        I think he means 2 times since this current go around with Strikeforce. He took over 2 years off inbetween Buentello and Rogers.

        • edub says:

          It’s because they couldn’t get him a fight. They had nobody to put him against, and the guy he called out multiple times (Fedor) refused to fight him.

        • Yes, this current go-round, because I wanted to be fair and just include his current contract rather than go all the way back and point out he’s only fought for them four times over the course of over five years (which is even worse but again there was that long layoff).

          And boy, for a company that couldn’t find an opponent of him, they sure did fill a Heavyweight tournament fast.

          Hands weren’t tied in this arrangement.

        • edub says:

          “And boy, for a company that couldn’t find an opponent of him, they sure did fill a Heavyweight tournament fast.
          Hands weren’t tied in this arrangement.”

          Is that directed at my point or 45’s?

  7. 45 Huddle says:

    This is the real reason…. It’s the level of competition…

    http://www.mmafighting.com/2011/07/20/alistair-overeem-explains-why-he-was-removed-from-strikeforce-gp/

    “You’ve always been known as an active fighter, for example, you competed in a combined 14 MMA and K-1 bouts in 2009-10, however, you’ve fought just once in 2011. Why have things changed?

    There are many explanations: the level of competition and the stakes are different. It’s safe to say that all those opponents aren’t as good as ‘Bigfoot,’ the other reason is that K-1 matches are very different to train and you don’t need a very long training camp if you compare it to MMA. The most important is that you can fight multiple times if you don’t interrupt your training. If the September date was confirmed right after the Werdum fight, it was no problem to get in shape because I would have skipped my holiday and organized the training camp earlier. If you go on a holiday and you stop training and enjoy life by eating things you’re normally aren’t allowed or going out instead of sleeping then your momentum is gone and you have to start all over again and that cost extra time as well. There is a reason why UFC champions only fight two times a year.”

    TRANSLATION: I’ve been fighting scrubs and a bunch of guys coming off os losses. And we all know K-1 is so easy now that you don’t even have to train for it that much. So now that Zuffa is actually giving me real competition, I really want to wait as long as possible for killing me current reputation as a monster…

  8. 45 Huddle says:

    The bottom line is simple:

    1) Alistair Overeem is now fighting better competition and is trying to put that off as long as possible.

    2) Alistair Overeem is use to telling promoters how his schedule is going to be. He can’t do that in the Zuffa universe. And the Zuffa universe is the only place that can pay him good money right now.

    Alistair Overeem is stuck. The Fabricio Werdum fight easily showed he is still the same fighter he was in Pride, only with more muscle. You could see the look on his face after the fight…. A look of worry. Something we have not seen in him for years (since Pride).

    The easy paydays are over for Alistair Overeem.

    • edub says:

      All this is utter nonsense. Just a terribly insane point of view that points to people calling you a mark over and over on this site.

      -Overeem has tried to fight the best possible fighters outside of the UFC since 2008. He chased Fedor around until he lost to Werdum.

      -Overeem has one fight left on his contract, and he’s trying to parlay that into a bigger contract (an Zuffa knows this). Not taking that very big factor into account is stupid, especially with the Diaz fiasco that happened a month and a half ago.

      -The Werdum fight showed Overeem is a stand up fighter with good take down defense. Trying to act like that is the same fighter from pride is illogical at best, and trollish at worst.

      • 45 Huddle says:

        Overeem was being hailed as the #1 Fighter in the world if he could win the Strikeforce Grand Prix.

        After his fight with Werdum, all of the talk was about how it just proved Cain & JDS were #1 and #2…

        So my comments are trollish or illogical. They are based on reality.

        Alistair Overeem has 2 years of HISTORY of either fighting on short notice or fighting quickly back to back.

        All of a sudden he is faced with better competition and drug testing…

        And all of a sudden he has all of these issues about fighting….

        Not shocking…

        • The Gaijin says:

          “All of a sudden he is faced with better competition…”

          AGAIN – You’re really failing to connect the dots for yourself or just being ignorant of the difference when trying to make this point. There’s a massive difference between (1) being willing to jump in and fight an mma fight on short notice against a b-level (well more like c-level) opponent worked around your kickboxing schedule and (2) being willing to jump in and fight top level opponents while you have one fight left on your contract.

          And the whole Werdum fight – I don’t think there was a lot to take away from it at all imho. When you’re a stand-up based fighter and fighting an in-shape and focused Werdum, you’re not going to look good when he resorts to the constant butt flop…it’s impossible.

        • edub says:

          “After his fight with Werdum, all of the talk was about how it just proved Cain & JDS were #1 and #2…”

          All the talk? By who? They UFC. Certain sites? Most of the talk around was arguing between people who actually thought Werdum fought a good fight, and the other side who saw Werdum do nothing but flop around the cage. Some thought Overeem would be #1 if he won the tournament, and others didn’t. This “all of the talk” line you keep repeating is nothing more than that, a line.

          “Alistair Overeem has 2 years of HISTORY of either fighting on short notice or fighting quickly back to back.”

          Easy capital letters.

          Yes he fought on short notice against cans and in kickboxing matches. Everybody knows that. Why would he continue to fight on short notice against a higher echelon of fighters? Maybe he’s injured. Maybe he just doesn’t want to get back into camp that fast.

          There are plenty of reasons why Overeem doesn’t want to fight that fast, and you and others who agree with you continue to gloss over the one that makes the most sense.

          Overeem is on the final fight of his contract, and he will be worth more when that contract is up. He is trying to use that worth to get a big deal, and Zuffa is playing hard ball with him because he doesn’t have that “boxing match clause” in his contract that Diaz had.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          So he has no problems fighting 2 months between K-1 fights…. And fighting Duffee, who wasn’t considered a can before New Years on 2 weeks notice…

          And yet he fights Silva… Who has already lost to a guy he just beat…. And he has issues?

          I am connecting the dots. And it’s not adding up for Overeem.

          He’s either so high on roids right now that he can’t cycle off in time…

          Or he is just downright afraid to fight top competition because he already tasted it in Pride and knows deep down he will get his head knocked off again.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          And it’s funny that BOTH of you continue to not even acknowledge that fact that he is fighting in America now and it’s only now that he needs more time between fights.

          It’s the MOST LOGICAL EXPLANATION…

          He is pumped up on illegal substances and the change of date has NOTHING to do with being ready or the quality of his opponents.

          It has to do with the content of his piss.

          That is the MOST likely thing happening right now.

          The change of date effects if you piss hot. And for a guy who has even fought K-1 against top guys on shorter notice….

          The drug testing is the only variable that is different in this equation.

        • edub says:

          Nope still wrong.

          He never refused to fight Big Foot. All he said was he’d be ready by October, not September. As you pointed out he already beat a guy who had a relatively easy time with Silva anyway.

          And yes as Gaij and myself pointed out, it’s a hell of a lot easier to fight c level fighters and kickboxing on short notice, than it is to go up against top tier competition (or close to it in Bigfoot) 3 months after he last fought.

        • edub says:

          “And it’s funny that BOTH of you continue to not even acknowledge that fact that he is fighting in America now and it’s only now that he needs more time between fights.

          It’s the MOST LOGICAL EXPLANATION…”

          Again just because you put down things in capital letter doesn’t make it any more accurate of a statement. It is not the most logical explanation. The most logical explanation is both the UFC and Overeem are having issues with the contracts (something you have yet to admit is going on).

          “He is pumped up on illegal substances and the change of date has NOTHING to do with being ready or the quality of his opponents.

          It has to do with the content of his piss.

          That is the MOST likely thing happening right now.”

          Oh. So you’re changing your argument around now, because you were the one talking about level of competition all over this page. That’s cute.

          The differences in this equation are many: Strikeforce is now a Zuffa based company, he’s not fighting on short notice in kickboxing, he’s not fighting on short notice against b/c level fighters, he has one fight left on his contract.

          Drug testing is only one of the variables. Which he very well could be roiding, however acting like that is a definite is way, way off.

        • The Gaijin says:

          “The drug testing is the only variable that is different in this equation.”

          No. No it is not.

          1.) Higher level of mma competition – don’t even get me started on your inexplicable turn of trying to now claim Todd Duffee was a high caliber opponent on short notice…we can easily go find your commentary on that one in real time.

          2.) Last fight on his contract + would be either (i) without a contract coming off a loss on short notice or (ii) have no contract and be in the finals [maybe he would have been smarter to hold the finals hostage but that’s a whole different ball of wax]

          3.) Saw the renegotiations/leverage Diaz used

          4.) Wants to fight in the UFC

          Agreed that there is the steroid issue, but it’s not the only difference and it’s pretty insulting/trollish that you’ve latched onto that single one as THE MOST LOGICAL EXPLANATION!!!1! when there’s a whole plethora of things to consider.

          I mean, there’s people who think Brock Lesnar – admitted former steroid user cum trunk smuggler of growth hormones (prescription of course!) – has had “SUPER SECRET MEDICAL ISSUES” because he failed secret pre-fight drug tests. Yeah, retarded right…but then you look at his schedule and see that he lots of time/notice between fights to cycle steroids out of his system and test himself. MOST. INTERESTING. [Ed. – I don’t believe this but you could easily try saying that.]

        • The Gaijin says:

          A few of 45’s thoughts on Todd Duffee, whom he now considers evidence that Overeem only now turns down short notice mma fights against good fighters:

          1.) “Lose to Mike Russow…. Get a shot at the Interim DREAM Heavyweight Title.

          Overeem is so awesome that not only does he not fight Top 10 guys…. But he fights guys coming off losses.

          Now that is tough!!”

          2.) “Because of what? Who has he beaten? Why would it be murder for anybody? Because he beat Todd Duffee? BWAHAHA!!!! You are living in a fantsasy world.”

          3.) “The Alistair Overeem love is a little out of control this New Years Eve. A lot of people declaring him the #1 Heavyweight in MMA now…. After beating Todd Duffee!!!”

          Come at me bro! 🙂

        • Alan Conceicao says:

          The most logical explanation is that he’s looking to get out of Strikeforce and into the UFC to make real money.

        • The Gaijin says:

          Ding! Ding! Ding!

        • nottheface says:

          No. The most likely explanation is that he wants to make more by fighting in the UFC AND Zuffa wants him to fight in the UFC where they could make more.

  9. Kelvin Hunt says:

    Kevin Iole: “Overeem is a great personality and he’s a guy that I think is an entertaining fighter, but he is largely unknown to the U.S. The hardcore fans know him and so they’re going to get upset and say, “We know who he is!” The hardcore fans know him but the hardcore fans make up less than 1% of the fan base, less than 1%. So, they’re marketing to a much bigger audience out there that doesn’t include the guys that are, you know, on the forums all day and posting and reading all these posts. And Overeem to that larger public is very unknown. Steve, he needs to be fighting on Zuffa-televised events and get his name out there because he’s got a great personality, people would love him when they get to know him. But he’s got to give himself a chance and talking about going into another sport is just going to lessen the impact you’re going to make in MMA.”

    Ehh…when did Overeem become a great personality?..Is he articulate? No doubt..but to say he has a great personality is way off base IMO…the only thing people would love about him is if he started destroying guys in the cage…from his last performance…that might not happen.

  10. Chris says:

    Reem is being a diva, either he was told Oct or he planned for oct when Coker said sept/oct/Nov and now he is pissed they are asking him to fight in sept.

    Either that or he cant cycle off the roids in time.

    I’m sorry but if you were really serious about fighting the best, being the best, getting to the UFC to fight Cain/JDS and you have this chance to win the GP, get in good with Zuffa and come to the UFC and they said its Sept or your out and you even said your injury aint bad wouldnt you take the fight rather then this?

    Unless you cant pass a test in sept, are being a diva or are scared to fight Big Foot or top HW since he looked like shit vs Werdum, I mean I’m sorry but Reem looks bad imo.

    this is a tournament, its not a regular fight you push back, its a tournament, other fighters are involved, you know your gonna have to fight every few months.

    Plus behind the scenes shit, could this be Zuffa wanting to get this thing over with cause a merger is coming early next year? Is this showtime playing hardball saying we know your gonna leave Showtime when the contract is up so we arent gonna help you out, why move things around to help Zuffa build up Reem as a star, if he wants to fight he can fight on the date we say which is Sept.

    Oct is to packed, two huge PPV, a Versus card, Super six boxing, probably an M 1 card, its not about not having a weekend to do it, its about overshadowing other fights that month. Its too much mma in one month.

    Put it in Sept where you only have UFC 135, it spaces it out, gives it more time being the only event to look forward to, in Oct you have two huge PPV and a Versus card, it doesnt give you time to really get hype up for events when you have one every week.

    I personally think having 136 137 in the same month is stupid, they should be 5 weeks apart atleast so you can build them up. Having them in the same month is gonna hurt PPv sales, people have to choose between PPV when they do two in a month, if they moved GSP/Diaz to Nov and Cain/JDS to Dec having each one of them as the lone PPV in a month would make them all sell more PPV.

    Sure its a great month for me and other fans who have friends and money and have no problem buying every PPV but the ones who cant will pick and choose, some will illegally stream them and not pay for them.

  11. Zack says:

    “Go to a live UFC event, and the fans love Dana White. The casual fans… The ones who make this sport profitable, love Dana White. It’s a faction of internet fans who don’t like him.”

    People like anyone who is on TV. At the weigh ins for the first Affliction show, Donald Trump got the biggest pop other than Fedor. Paris Hilton has fans.

  12. […] Is Zuffa Sending the Wrong Message in their Handling of Alistair Overeem? (FightOpinion.com) […]

  13. […] Is Zuffa Sending the Wrong Message in their Handling of Alistair Overeem? (FightOpinion.com) […]

  14. […] What exactly is the message UFC is sending to MMA fighters with their handling of Alistair Overeem? | Fight Opinion […]

  15. safari_punch says:

    Hey 45 Huddle,

    I think Iole was talking about you when he was talking about the guys that are on message boards all day.

    Do you have some sort of special program that allows you to respond to every message on every board? What’s your handle on Sherdog?

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