(SURPRISE! Just shittin’ you, Ricco. The fight’s still on.")
In spite of Alistair Overeem‘s public statement to MMAFighting’s Ariel Helwani today that he never agreed to face Ricco Rodriguez at DREAM 15 this weekend, executives from the Japanese MMA organization are denying that the Strikeforce heavyweight champion has declined a slot on the card.
According to sources close to the fighter, who is currently aboard a plane to Japan under the assumption that the fight is still a go, DREAM officials have denied the reports that have surfaced about Alistair bowing out of the event and they have held steadfast to their claim that Rodriguez will indeed face Overeem.
Maybe Overeem should have cc’ed them on the statement he sent to Ariel, below. That way there wouldn’t be any confusion.
"I have heard numerous rumors about me fighting at Dream on July 10. I want to give my side of the story before speculation arises:
After my Brett Rogers fight on May 15, I decided to take time off and do media appearances — MMA expo in Canada, E3 expo, Strikeforce events — and enjoy some time off with my family. I knew Dream wanted me on the show, but I didn’t want to go back in training preparation. Then, they offered me a fight against Andrei Arlovski for the Dream heavyweight title. As I have said on occasions, fighting for a belt means something more, and I wanted that Dream title so much that So as a result, I agreed to lay off my media and holiday plans, and went back to training.
During my training I found out that Andrei Arlovski was not going to be my opponent, and they changed opponents numerous times. I’ve heard names like Tim Sylvia and Minowa. At one point, I received notice that they had found a opponent but that the Dream heavyweight title was not on the line anymore. With all the changes and the title fight no longer a possibility, I simply had to turn down the opportunity.
The next day, I immediately took a flight to San Jose to hype up my possible fight against the winner of Fedor Emelianenko or Fabricio Werdum. I then heard rumors that Dream had booked me in a fight against Ricco Rodriguez. I want to make it very clear that I never verbally agreed to fight him and I never signed a contract with Dream to fight him. I feel very sorry for Ricco Rodriguez’s camp if they still think the fight is on, and I apologize to my fans that have bought a ticket to see me compete. I hope this statement has shed some light on the unfortunate situation."
Maybe DREAM should hire Scott Coker to turn this ship around.