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What role will Kazuyoshi Ishii’s new attempt to revive K-1 play in Alistair Overeem’s career?

By Zach Arnold | July 30, 2011

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This is the video that set off a firestorm of reaction online yesterday.

KENNY RICE: “Ron Kruck now we get ready to join him with some news that has been breaking this week and it’s some big about the big man that maybe used to be in Strikeforce, Ron.”

RON KRUCK: “That’s right, Kenny. More shocking news concerning Strikeforce HW champion Alistair Overeem. Inside MMA has learned that Overeem has received a cut letter and has been released from the promotion.

“Sources close to the situation have told Inside MMA that the company has exercised it right to eliminate his one remaining fight on his contract, effective July 22nd. Overeem will fight next in October in Russia for the promotion United Glory. No word on who his opponent will be.

“Also, according to the source, Overeem has been dealing with more serious injuries than originally reported, including a broken toe and rib & elbow problems. Overeem fought through the nagging injuries against Fabricio Werdum and was told that he wouldn’t have to fight again until late Fall. The semi-finals are scheduled to take place on September 10th in Cincinnati and Overeem has stated that he needs more time to recover.

“Another issue that Strikeforce officials had regarding Overeem’s participation in the tournament is he had only one fight left on his current contract and he would have had to fight twice to win the Grand Prix.

“Guys, the situation surround Alistair Overeem keeps getting stranger. We will continue to follow this huge story. Back to you.”

KENNY RICE: “All right, Ron, thank you. Good stuff and that is surprising about Overeem & Zuffa but, you know, I think that maybe he… … the last fight on the contract, I mean, you know, they don’t mess around. They don’t have to mess around.”

BAS RUTTEN: “No, they don’t, and apparently they didn’t like what happened now. You know? They’re going to go, okay, so what is it, a toe injury? Can’t fight with a toe? You don’t know their way of thinking, but I’m pretty sure I’m sure it had something to do with it. Some game has been played there, I don’t know from whom or what.”

KENNY RICE: “What I think it shows as much as anything, for anybody that’s had great success no matter where in the world, it’s still the UFC. And if you come in now under their umbrella Strikeforce or whatever, you better be prepared to bring it.”

After this video was released, when Dana White stated that he was not involved in discussions with Golden Glory over Overeem’s status with Strikeforce. However, he claimed that Golden Glory management contacted him and said that they wanted to work out a deal.

There is one additional to throw into the mix that has not been discussed heavily and that’s Dan Herbertson’s report of K-1 brands being sold to Tokyo real estate operation Barbizon, which has a lot of real estate in night life spots like Roppongi. Given Kazuyoshi Ishii’s past track record and his notoriety for the night life, I said the other day that I wouldn’t give further comment on the story. However, with Golden Glory being so active in Japanese circles for so many years, the development of Alistair Overeem getting cut by the Zuffa family has to be taken into further consideration in regards to Ishii attempting a revival.

It was less than 8 months ago that Alistair Overeem was priming the pump to make a major run in Japan. As Tony Loiseleur elaborately detailed last year in this Sherdog article, Overeem was ready to focus entirely on Japan while still being the Strikeforce HW champion. He had just won the K-1 tournament in Tokyo at Ariake Colosseum (broadcasted on Fuji TV). He was set to fight Todd Duffee at K-1’s Dynamite event, an event that predictably was a train wreck (I called it the anatomy of a public execution) because of lack of major support from Tokyo Broadcasting System. After destroying Duffee in mere seconds, Overeem had been ready to go all-in with his attempt to become a true ace in the Japanese fighting scene.

It all looked great for Alistair, as he was enjoying his Nikkan Sports award. Two months later, Overeem was singing a different tune about fighting in Japan.

All of a sudden, Japan was dead to him. How and why would such a radical change of plans take place? Easy. He claimed he got stiffed on his money for fighting at K-1’s Ariake Colosseum event. As Ray Sefo and many other K-1 veterans have pointed out, they all got stiffed and allegedly scammed out of a lot of money. The fact that Sefo was able to make the comments that he did in an interview with Tokyo Sports without any fear of repercussions from K-1 told you everything you needed to know about how weak K-1’s power was/is in Japan. Simon Rutz, of all people, announced a promotional run for It’s Showtime in Japan.

Now, Dan Herbertson says that Barbizon is involved in K-1. The real headline should be, “Ishii back in play.” He wanted to get his company back and he did so. FEG, the corporate shell used to run K-1 for many years, is saddled with debt and will likely be abandoned. Good luck to the creditors in recovering cash (in my opinion).

The fight business is littered with stories of big promoters who have stiffed or underpaid fighters. Said parties get angry at the promoters and then when work gets slim the old promoters resurface and try to convince fighters to come back by using something like… But, but, this time it will be different! And, occasionally, the tactic works.

While everyone is focused on whether or not Alistair Overeem is looking to get a UFC contract, keep one eye open on what’s happening with Ishii attempting a comeback of sorts. As Dave Walsh recently hinted, there are a lot of European players (potentially Golden Glory) would would love to get things moving again in Japan. Such a move would allow Overeem to get back to kickboxing and do occasional MMA outside of the Zuffa landscape. The question is whether or not Ishii would be able to kiss and make up financially with Alistair before UFC makes a substantial money offer.

If Overeem does end up back in Japan fighting again, then the closest you’ll ever see Alistair to fighting in a Zuffa ring is if you use his character in the upcoming UFC Undisputed 3 video game. Here’s a video interview from that proves this point.

Q: “In terms of the game modes, I know you’re featuring a big feature which is the PRIDE mode, which a lot of UFC fans and a lot of hardcore fans of MMA are waiting for. I want to know about this PRIDE mode and what to look forward to.”

A: “Well, PRIDE is going to be sick, right? I mean it’s, you know, Japanese rule sets. So, you have access to different moves that you don’t have in the UFC. Foot stomps, soccer kicks, knees to the heads of downed opponents, so what’s really cool is the PRIDE mode is going to offer all these new game play opportunities for people and I mean really allowing you to kind of unleash, you know, kind of the brutal combat that the Undisputed franchise is known for. We’re going to have a lot of, we’re not getting into the roster too much, but a lot of historical PRIDE fighters and then younger versions of current UFC fighters with their stats at their PRIDE level. Then, on top of that, you can also take UFC guys into PRIDE style matches and take PRIDE guys into UFC matches, so it’s a really cool feature that we’re kind of allowing you to pit the present against the past in our game and I think the fans are going to be better for it. And, on top of that, it just looks amazing.”

Q: “Is there a good amount of the guys from PRIDE making a, I guess I don’t want to say comeback, but that will be appearing in this UFC Undisputed 3?”

A: “Yeah, I think you can say that, you know, we’re fan of the sport and the genre and, you know, the best information you’re going to find is on, our community site, those are the people we brought in to focus test this game over the past year. That’s where we’re going to be releasing a lot of really cool information so, you know, you’ll have to wait and see but we’re definitely aiming to make this the best PRIDE experience possible.”

Q: “Well, you have the entrances because I know PRIDE was known for a few things. One, the entrances, especially Akihiro Gono and his entrances, Rampage and his entrances. Is that something being incorporated in the game?”

A: “Absolutely, entrances have been added to the game this year, both in the UFC and PRIDE mode. Players will actually be able to customize their entrances for their created fighters. So, again, you know it’s one of those things that a little bit more time to development. People wanted WEC, they wanted PRIDE, they wanted entrances. Hey, you know, check those boxes, we’ve been able to put them in.”

Topics: Japan, K-1, Media, MMA, StrikeForce, UFC, Zach Arnold | 24 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

24 Responses to “What role will Kazuyoshi Ishii’s new attempt to revive K-1 play in Alistair Overeem’s career?”

  1. 45 Huddle says:

    Does it matter?

    Alistair Overeem has nobody to fight. Zuffa has probably 18 of the Top 20 Heavyweights today. Overeem is stuck in irrelevent fights.

    Overeem and his management thought they could get a bigger contract by using the fact that he wasn’t signed on until the end. He tried and he failed. They strong armed somebody with more leverage.

    Now, Overeem was released a week ago. Since then Dana White has confirmed that GG reached out to him. Likely they found out there strategy didn’t work and tried to talk to White to make it better once he was released.

    Whether Overeem comes to the UFC eventually all depends on how many money marks are left internationally. Even if Zuffa offers him $300,000 per fight…. I highly doubt anybody can pay him close to that much.

    But the REAL story here is how much of a screw up Scott Coker is.

    1) He delayed the GP due to poor planning.

    2) He had Josh Barnett in there despite his AC issues.

    3) Alistair Overeem wasn’t even signed trough the entire tournament.

    4) Fighters are making fights between rounds.

    Zuffa is cleaning up his mess big time. They likely had to pay more then they wanted to for Nick Diaz because of that boxing stipulation. They are dealing the Overeem mess now.

    How is competition looking now? This was Zuffa’s biggest competitor. Many people were in denial about how bad they were. All they did was inflate the salaries and fracture the sport for longer based on a foundation of garbage. Good riddance. The sooner the fighters are transferred over to the UFC the better.

  2. bluerosekiller says:


    I’m sorry pal, but I honestly alternate fairly regularly between becoming TOTALLY perplexed/pissed off & being thoroughly entertained by your posts.
    Not in a disrespectful manner either, because though you’re prolific posts often provoke negative reactions from me, you know the sport, put work into your posts & therefore are 110% entitled to your opinions in my book.
    But, damn if you’re not SO pro UFC/Dana White I’m often left wondering if all your years here have been one long work…

    I mean even though Zuffa has owned & operated Strikeforce since March, you STILL rail against it because it’s still, not quite UFC enough for you yet.
    I mean, seriously 45, I’m curious, what are you going to do once it’s fully absorbed into the UFC in the next year or so & all the fighters that Zuffa w2ants are signed to UFC contracts?
    Who are you going to hate?
    Bellator & the other scattered outfits across the globe hardly seem worth the effort.
    You’ll FINALLY have what you’ve always desired.
    The UFC as THE dominant & sole promotion of world class MMA.
    Not that I think that’s a bad thing, as long as Zuffa doesn’t try to bend us all over for even more PPVs & somehow make a buck on the televised fights that we currently get from Strikeforce on Showtime.
    That’s all I’m concerned about.
    I don’t even really care much about what channel provides the telecasts of world class MMA that I get, because, as a fightfan I make sure that my satellite package always includes those premium channels that telecast boxing & MMA. So, I’m good.
    Where I’ll get apoplectic is if Zuffa eventually expects me to pay more than the cost of a premium channel subscription for the same quality of contests that I’m seeing now on a regular basis from Showtime.
    Dana & the brothers Fertitta make THAT particular move & I’ll ( LOUDLY ) curse the day that they purchased Coker’s baby.

    • The Rokk says:

      Our boy 45 Huddle surely “puts in work” with his posts. I wounder if he has a job?

      Anyway, I’ve argued this a million times and I might as well argue it now — the UFC is not folding Strikeforce any time soon. Why? Well, the UFC is holding on to Strikeforce for mult-branding purposes. If Zuffa folds Strikeforce and adds all of those fighters to the UFC’s already overflowing roster, it will not only be too much to manage, it will also oversaturate the market with UFC.

      If the UFC wants a T.V. channel, it will need programming from more than just the UFC. It would be boring to watch just UFC all day. So, one of the things that they’ll do is keep Strikeforce to have another name on the schedule. It’s possible they could also purchase a couple of other smaller promotions or form smaller promotions as B-level shows to add to the sked. Essentially, a UFC Channel will be similar to Spike but more MMA-centered with a Joe Rogan show, etc.

      Back to the point. Strikeforce is a part of Zuffa/UFC’s bigger scheme. You simply cannot have 500 fighter under one banner. Guys will be lucky to fight 2x/year in that situation.

  3. nottheface says:

    1. Is there any actual confirmation that Overeem only had 1 fight left? Or was it 1 fight before a champion’s clause kicks in? – something Zuffa wouldn’t want to risk defending in court. Overeem’s open contract and any possibility use of that to try and negotiate a better deal seems just as likely of explanation.
    2. If he had only 2 fights left when the tournament started why didn’t they remove in the first round? Coker might be incompetent but Zuffa also had 3 months to replace him if they didn’t want a headache further down the line.
    3. So they cut Overeem – their champ – for either claiming to be injured and unable to fight on a quick turnaround or because he’s trying to re-negotiate a better contract – but keep Machida who just tried to negotiate for more money to fight on short notice?

    None of this is really adding up for me.

    • The Gaijin says:

      Don’t forget the fact that initially DW said they had nothing to do with these negotiations…that it was all AO/GG-Strikeforce and that Zuffa jumped in at the behest of AO/GG.

      And then you see all the other news coming out after the fact and it was very apparent that Zuffa was involved from the get go with this fiasco.

  4. Stel says:

    The problem is not Dana or the ufc or Coker, or conflicted schedule, the conflict is between Overeems unlimited desire for money, roids, horses, winners adoration and his limited desire to fight.
    Its a tourney he signed to fight in it, do they postpone the superbowl because of injury?
    Do doctors check fighters after the fight? No report of broken toes or ribs or elbow after he stood in the ring with werd.
    Now overeem goes to the docs a month later? Now he’s all banged up? Nah… Do fighters fight with injuries? of course they do.
    most likely he knows he will loose to BF or Josh for the gp belt, and would likely have to loss again to them for the HW belt.
    This boils down to the bargaining power Reem has with the various orgs he associates with, something Reem will not have much of with SF if he loses his last fight on their contract.
    On the surface I’d have to say this was about the stupidest thing I have ever seen a fighter do, but it might be the smartest thing for a fighter who just wants to win…

  5. Stel says:

    A rib fracture is pretty common, i’ve had some persist for a year, you just deal with it and try not to laugh too hard. You can’t treat it, it just heals slow or fast depending on the person.
    And its funny he didn’t get any verification from the doc that his toe and elbow were also injured. So those were phantom injuries? These in my opinion are harder injuries to train with than a fractured rib.
    Reem looked terrible against werdum and I scored the fight for werdum. I mean did Reem ever try to finish? He stunned him with one or two punches in the entire fight. He never even threw a combo, and he threw maybe 3 kicks to werdums dozens of kicks and combos which had reem backing up. Werd never backed off in the fight but that was pretty much all reem did.

    • edub says:

      It’s simple. If you scored the fight for Werdum, you’re an idiot. Flopping on your back,getting dropped, and getting thrown on your back routinely don’t win you a fight. Why in the world would he throw combos or a kick if all his opponents plan to do was take him down.

      “Werd never backed off in the fight but that was pretty much all reem did.”

      What do you think flopping on your back 10+ times in a fight is doing?

    • edub says:

      And on top of that does he need to post all of his x-rays online?

      • Stel says:

        why would he throw combos and kicks? do you realize how stupid that sounds? He is a striker…

        …and no he doesn’t need to show all of his x-rays. just the ones which would support his previously stated reason for backing out.
        Either he got his elbow and toe looked at or he didn’t, his toe was taped for the Werd fight so obviously it was not 100%, but regardless his only verified current complaint is the rib.

        • edub says:

          No, no, you idiot, no.

          Just because he is a striker doesn’t mean he throws a lot of combos or kick. Hell in K1 he never does that. He relies on huring people with single shots, and follows up when needed. Why in the hell would he do those things, which makes it easier for a grappler to get you to the ground? It would be a insanely stupid gameplan.

          Understand now smart guy?

  6. Stel says:

    Hopefully whoever is fighting reem in october will use lots of toe stomps and kicks to the body.

  7. Mr. Roadblock says:

    I can’t take Overeem seriously any longer if he goes back to Japan to fight.

    I actually like Overeem and was hoping he’d win the GP. He didn’t look that great against Werdum (he certainly won the fight though). In my opinion he showed that he would have trouble with the striking from competitors in the deeper end of the HW pool.

    Overeem to me is a fun guy to watch fight in freakshows. If he’s not going to compete in the US he doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in any top 10 lists or relevant discussions about top HWs.

    I hope he changes his mind and fights in UFC/SF. But we’ll probably just see him fighting roided up tomato cans like Todd Duffee.

  8. edub says:

    “In my opinion he showed that he would have trouble with the striking from competitors in the deeper end of the HW pool.”

    Now this I wholeheartedly agree with.

  9. bluerosekiller says:

    Phantom injuries, power plays, PEDs, alleged cowardice & all other supposed conspiracies aside, what we all know this is going to come down to at the end of the day is whether The Reem signs with the UFC or not.
    With the Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion now banished from the Grand Prix, there’s no reason for the tournament to continue IMO. Why bother?
    My guess is that the victor of it will be crowned the new Champion, but it’ll be a borderline farce & an empty title for an organization that will VERY likely be absorbed by it’s big brother promotion at the edict of it’s new parent company sooner rather than later.

    Back to Overeem, Zuffa has now yanked apart the the once quaint community theater stage on which he played to much acclaim by the locals & they’re likely demanding that he go to work for them by finally making his anticipated Broadway debut… Or, get the hell out of the view of their opera glasses & be reduced to total obscurity in the occasional off, OFF Broadway show.

  10. bluerosekiller says:

    As a longtime fan of his, I’m REALLY hoping that he & his people step up & seize the moment. It’s time for him to mix with the rest of the elite in the devision.
    If he chooses not to?
    If he elects to rule the rings/cages of Japan, Europe & perhaps other smaller organizations of this hemisphere, then his entire run at heavyweight over the past several years falls into question for a litany of reasons.
    Hell, even any sort of delay would be totally unacceptable IMO.

  11. Overeem isn’t going to spend his career fighting for pocket change when the only real money is in the UFC. Get real people. Does no one else realize that he’s now free to renegotiate a new contract with the UFC?

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