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Alistair Overeem says that UFC not letting him fight for K-1/DREAM was a dealbreaker

By Zach Arnold | August 6, 2011

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Don’t say I didn’t warn you about this, because I did. And if you didn’t click the link already, I’ll give you a second chance to do so. Our hunch about the trouble brewing between Zuffa & Golden Glory because of Kazuyoshi Ishii’s attempts at a revival seem validated here all of a sudden (again).

For the first part of this interview, Alistair gives a summary of what happened regarding his prior injuries and the phone calls he got from Strikeforce before he got cut. It sets up this next passage very nicely.

BAS RUTTEN: “They said you used an injury for negotiations. That was the impression they had over here (in America). But that was absolutely not true, right?”

ALISTAIR OVEREEM: “Definitely not, definitely not. The basic thing was there wasn’t a negotiation except for the date, that was the only communication going. But then the second thing what happened was Strikeforce found out that I only had one fight left on my contract. So, they were like, hey, wait a minute, if Alistair wins this fight he’s going to be in the finals without a contract, which for us would be the golden situation because then you’re in a final of a tournament without a contract. Well, there were some contract negotiations for an extension in Strikeforce and basically what happened was there was a lot of terms in there which… yeah, which we could not live with. One was exclusively to fight for Strikeforce and basically that would mean I would have to let K-1 go, to let DREAM go, and yeah, even the possibility of the UFC. I’m always a guy looking up, looking further, and yeah, the UFC is where the top guys are. That’s my ultimate goal to become a UFC champion. But, basically, they wanted to keep me in Strikeforce and, yeah…”

KENNY RICE: “You mentioned the UFC and now, of course, they are owners of Strikeforce. Can you, will you, and do you want to get back in with them and work out something so that you can fight at the top level of the UFC and maybe get that belt?”

ALISTAIR OVEREEM: “Well, listen. There’s two people ranked currently above me (Cain Velasquez & Junior dos Santos) and they’re both in the UFC, so of course I want to go to the UFC. I mean, I want to fight the top competition, these guys are there so of course it’s not up to me. It’s up to does the UFC want me? I’m willing to go wherever the top guys are.”

KENNY RICE: “Does the Strikeforce thing, though, do you think that will hamper you (with them)? Because they’re tied in now with UFC. With what happened in Strikeforce, does that hurt you with the UFC down the road, Alistair?”

ALISTAIR OVEREEM: “Well, that, I don’t know, that is unclear to me. It’s unclear where their priorities are and if it’s one entity or two, I don’t exactly know if that’s the case. But from what I understand that they wanted to keep me in Strikeforce to build the Strikeforce brand and, yeah, for me of course, I want to go where the top guys are and that is UFC and UFC is what I’m interested in. But, of course, I like K-1 and I like DREAM, so basically what I understand is that the contract for my next Strikeforce contract is what… yeah, what they couldn’t work out and, after that, I was released. After that, I was cut from my last fight in Strikeforce.”

The key takeaway from this interview is that, yes, he says he wants to fight in the UFC. However, he reaffirms what most people keep overlooking, which is that he wants to be able to fight in Japan. Remember, he had big plans for Japan late last year (which I’ve written about extensively on this site) and then, all of a sudden, he abandoned those plans and immediately declared himself 100% committed to Strikeforce. Japan wasn’t even a factor last February.

Six months ago, Japan was persona non grata to him. Now, abruptly, Japan is credibly a magical career option again to pursue? Something had to change, and clearly that was movement in Japan on the part of Ishii. Whether Ishii can back up anything he’s telling people (or not), that’s debatable. However, there was enough talk coming out of Japan that Golden Glory started talking about that market again (despite everything that has happened within the last year between Overeem & FEG).

That is why last week’s summary about Kazuyoshi Ishii was important. Whether or not Japan will become a relevant fighting market any time soon doesn’t matter, but the influence from there in regards to the UFC/GG situation seems evident.

Topics: DREAM, Japan, K-1, Media, MMA, StrikeForce, UFC, Zach Arnold | 20 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

20 Responses to “Alistair Overeem says that UFC not letting him fight for K-1/DREAM was a dealbreaker”

  1. Dave says:

    The whole situation is bonkers, you really need to read between the lines to see what is happening, but if you haven’t figured it out already, Zach has laid it out all very nicely.

  2. RST says:

    I’ll never doubt the Reem again.

    Especially after he forced Verdum to do a dogbutt vs. carpet imitation Via mind bullets and fanboy tyranny.

    But did he really think that he was gonna be the Che Guevara of overthrowing Zuffa’s standard business methods just for that?!

    One decent win does not a Bargaining leverage make.

    • Nepal says:

      If you’re referring to Reem’s win over Werdum… that was not a “decent” win. It was a crap win in which his striking against Werdum looked poor.

      • Light23 says:

        His striking was poor? Werdum kept flopping to the ground like he was having a seizure, if Overeem merely looked like he was going to hit him!

        • 45 Huddle says:

          He took flush shots to the face and showed zero head movement and footwork.

          He does the same thing in K-1. No footwork and he just puts his gloves up to protect his face before he can just use his power.

          His striking isn’t very good….

        • Light23 says:

          He didn’t care about Werdum’s striking so he wasn’t exactly concerned about getting hit.

          His striking isn’t good but he won K-1? His striking isn’t good, but Werdum is utterly terrified of standing with him?

          In boxing you can’t just fall to the ground when you don’t want to get hit.

        • RST says:

          “His striking isn’t good but he won K-1”

          K1 is not what its alleged to be sometimes IMO.

          Carter williams was good for one year.

          Sucked ever since.

          Seems like K1 has much more to do with circumstances.

          Semmy shilt was k1 ace for a few years in a row.

          But Was always meh at MMA. Even for striking.

          K1 striking isn’t really that much better then MMA striking as far as I can tell.

          Boxing yeah, K1… ehhh…

          (schmedrickson silva probably COULD have beat RJJ 2 years ago. Or even today.)

  3. 45 Huddle says:

    1) K-1 doesn’t pay him, but he still wants to compete there?

    2) DREAM has ZERO Top level Heavyweight talent, but he still wants to compete there?

    It’s pretty darn obvious that Alistair Overeem has no care to fight top fighters at this point in time. He is content on fighting scrubs in Japan who are already coming off KO losses in their last fights…..

    This is why I find mixed rankings so utterly pointless. The guys inside Zuffa want to prove they are the best. It’s touch and go outside of Zuffa. Some are just looking for the money and have no concern of fighting relevent talent. Overeem falls into this category….

    And Japan is still irrelevent no matter what money mark emerges. The sport is dead over there. They have no stars. Any money mark will be short lived and out of business like FEG and Sengoku.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      And let’s not forget….

      No testing in Japan. It’s much easier to just use PED’s when you want instead of cycling on and off over and over again. Coming off steroids, from what they say, is not exactly fun for the body. I’m sure that plays into him not wanting to be in the UFC as well….

      MMA Heavyweights have always been flakey. From Couture giving up the UFC belt after UFC Japan…. To Bas Rutten retiring after 1 UFC title fight…. To Fedor Emelianenko avoiding top competition for years and instead fighting Choi & Lindland….. To now even Alistair Overeem finding any excuse in the book….. From injuries, to checks, to exclusive contracts, and anything else he can throw into the equation. There are many more examples inbetween….

      The division continues to be a joke outside of a handful of fighters.

      Even boxing’s Heavyweight Division is a joke. Light Heavyweights and Cruiserweights are coming in undersized and still being competitive because the current crop of talent is so bad.

      When Heavyweight fighting is ON…. It’s a thing of beauty of watch. In between those glimpses of glory, it’s a trainwreck….

      • Jonathan Snowden says:


        You should study your steroid lore a little more. Even the most serious users cycle on and off – otherwise the effects of the drugs are minimized. Like any other fighter, Overeem could use before UFC fights if he wanted to. I doubt it’s an issue at all, much less a major one dictating decision making.

  4. Nepal says:

    Interesting when Zuffa bought Pride, I was surprised they didn’t try very hard to pick up all the top stars. They opened the door for Affliction to come along. Affliction went down and there were more stars available. Again UFC didn’t grab them all, opening the door for Strikeforce to move from a regional player to a serious #2 national player. Strikeforce is gone and now there are again a number of heavies on the open market. Heavies that have strong fan bases and/or are well known.

    If somebody with a vision (correct or not) comes along and says “ok, I’m going to be the new #2 promoter” he signs available guys.

    Guys available now:
    Todd Duffee
    Andrei Arlovski
    Tim Silvia (I know I know but people still know him)
    Abe Wagner (the guy that just beat Big Tim)

    Available soon?”
    Sergei Kharitonov
    Josh Barnett
    Brett Rogers (bit of a stretch here)

    Those are 10 guys I just thought of off the top of my head, a few more for sure are available. Whether another organization would make it work, satisfy all those egos and expected pay checks would be a challenge. What has been happening over and over again though is that if there is talent available, somebody comes along with their own promotional spin.

    I don’t think Zuffa has to toe any fighter’s unreasonable line and some of these guys should be let go but why leave so many fighters that are better than many of the current roster of UFC heavies on the market? If you leave that door open further competition will come?

    Who knows, maybe that’s what Zuffa secretly wants. More competitors that will ultimately fail. Competition is good for business.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      “but why leave so many fighters that are better than many of the current roster of UFC heavies on the market?”

      Duffee couldn’t beat Russow. Sylvia is washed up. Fedor lost 3 in a row and last one to a Middleweight. Einemo looked downright awful in his only UFC fight. Arlovski is completely shot.

      The UFC knows this is a marathon. They could have easily matched the pay for Arlovski and Sylvia when they went to Affliction, but they didn’t. They use sound business sense.

      Also, who is left as a money mark? Bellator can’t even afford Nathan Marquardt. There isn’t really anybody left to make another run at this…. And there is no money value in any of those fighters….

    • Nepal says:

      45, that’s not really my point. Saying Duffee couldn’t beat Russow isn’t accurate. Duffee dominated other than the one punch. Who would you pick in a rematch? I’m not even saying Duffee is that great. I’m saying he’s better than some UFC heavies and people know him and like him and he has ‘the look’.

      Einemo didn’t look that bad. He won fight of the night. Never going to be the champ but again better than some of the UFC heavies and he’s cheap.

      Fedor lost 3 in a row but tell me any fight with Fedor isn’t going to be a huge draw and an entertaining fight too boot. At least Fedor fights balls out and people like that. I realize dealing with M1’s demands make it very difficult but…

      I know Sylvia is a slob…. as I said people still know him. It’s all about the spin.

      The point is, the door is opened and it doesn’t need to be.

      Also, there is always another money mark coming in.

      • 45 Huddle says:

        But the door isn’t open because none of those guys can draw money.

        • Robert Poole says:

          45 – Exactly three people “draw money” right now.

          Brock Lesnar
          Anderson Silva (and that’s been repaired from earlier when he couldn’t draw because he was tanking finishing fights).

          You might be able to make a case for Rampage but after his last two fights, he hasn’t exactly impressed.

          Everyone else draws based on the Zuffa machine. That’s why guys can come in and out of spots on the card so frequently. If UFC wants to build a guy to sell, they’ll do it. If they have something special via talent or charisma then they can take it further and draw on their own. But to say Zuffa doesn’t hire guys because they won’t draw is ridiculous because 3/4ths of their roster wouldn’t draw a dime without the Zuffa promotional machine.

  5. Stel says:

    Dana can say the best fighters fight in the ufc, but when Dana eliminates the new top strikeforce fighters that were claimed to have been purchased/needed by the ufc in order to “put on more fights” he proves that both of the fore mentioned statements were no more than window dressing. At this stage in the game, Dana’s limited ability to work with people/business as usual is a hindrance to the fans fighters and the ufc as a business.

  6. […] the UFC, but talks for a new contract broke down when Zuffa demanded exclusivity. Transcription via Fight Opinion: “The basic thing was there wasn’t a negotiation except for the date, that was the only […]

  7. Stel says:

    That being said, If I bought strikforce, I would be using the connections Coker has built with the international fight scene namely japan, and slowly get fighters who fight for k1 and dream fighting in strikforce. Make sf into a more stand friendly environment for the Cung lees, Ole Larson, Melvin, K-1 crowd.
    I wouldn’t just grab Nick and fire the others that have built up strikeforce. Ugly and stupid is really the best way to describe the handling of this whole deal. SF seems pretty much gutted already, Overeem, Diaz, the womens fights, gone, all the original sf employees gone, Coker? token Jovial greeter.

  8. EJ says:

    The dealbreaker was Zuffa not putting up with his and GG’s bs anymore that’s the real dealbreaker. Hey if Overeem wants to run around in Japan and kickbox and beat up cans that’s fine. The fact is he was exposed against Werdum and isn’t a draw, his career will become irrelevant if it already wasn’t and he’ll fade away and be forgotten. Meanwhile he’ll miss out on possible multi-millions because of this and the UFC will continue to rule the mma world so nothing new here.

  9. […] FightOpinion has a transcript of the interview, which you can read here. […]


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