This past week has been a wild ride for Golden Glory fighters, one that they’d likely rather get off at this point. With the exception of Strikeforce HWGP competitor Sergei Kharitonov, Zuffa purged its rosters of the Netherlands-based camp, starting with Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem. Last night “The Demolition Man” joined Inside MMA to give his side of the tale.
Things start off as many would imagine: with Zuffa/Forza management looking like unreasonable assholes. Overeem repeats that he was promised an October date for the second round of the tournament, and when injuries prevented him from competing a month earlier than planned he was removed from the tournament. From there he says the conversation deteriorated:
“Well then the communication harshened a little bit. It was like, ‘If you don’t compete in the tournament then you’re going to be cut from Strikeforce entirely.’ So, that was really like a threat. So I [said], ‘Then go ahead and cut me.’ And they went along and cut me.”
That sounds pretty cut and dry- he was told to jump and when he refused he was punished unfairly. As he goes on, however, we see that there was more at play here than petty vindictiveness.
“Then the second thing was that 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 goal of the situation because then you’re in the finals of a tournament without a contract. Well, there were some contract negotiations for an extension with Strikeforce, and basically what happened was there were a lot of terms in there which we could not live with. One was exclusively to fight for Strikeforce. Basically, that meant I had to let K1 go. I had to let Dream go. Even the possibility of fighting for the UFC. I’m always a guy looking up, looking further, and the UFC is where the top guys are so that’s my ultimate goal to become the UFC Champion. But basically they wanted to keep me in Strikeforce.”
So here’s where Zuffa comes off looking much more reasonable, and a lot like responsible businessmen. Zuffa doesn’t play the whole “open contract” game, and with good reason. Between Strikeforce, K1, Dream, and any other promotion with some cash laying around, Overeem has a lot of options, so many that he didn’t defend his Strikeforce belt for nearly three years. Granted, there wasn’t a lot of worthy competition in the organization at that time, but he didn’t seem quite so discerning when trouncing Tae Hyun Lee and Tony Sylvester during that absence. Zuffa’s exclusive contracts work, period, and they’d be foolish to grant one of their champions a hall pass to come and go as he pleases. If anything, shutting him off to the UFC shows a commitment to building the Strikeforce brand.
As for the rest of the Golden Glory crew, Dana White joined Mauro Ranallo to give more details.
When asked about the cuts, Dana doesn’t shy away from the topic. He sticks to his guns, insisting that the release is simply over a disagreement about whose name gets written on the checks. A simple disagreement, but one that neither party would budge on.
“I like it, let’s get into this. The bottom line is, and it’s nothing person against the Golden Glory management or the fighters, there’s nothing personal there. I have no personal conflict with these guys whatsoever. They just do business differently than we do. There will never be a day where I pay a manager and not pay the fighter. And the way they work, is they say it absolutely, positively has to be ‘you pay us, and we pay the fighters’ and that’s not how we work. And to clear the air and the confusion here, the people that have fought on the UFC card, we told them, or Strikeforce, ‘You’re going to be paid by us.’ We told Golden Glory, ‘We won’t pay you, we’re paying the fighters.’
As for the great “Marloes Coenen Check Scandal”, D-Dub explains that the fighters were being paid directly, but that Golden Glory upper management had refused to accept these policies moving forward. Dana says that his payment process, not Golden Glory’s, is in line with most athletic commissions.
“[The fighters] were paid by us. Basically the way that it works is, the checks are all written, it depends, different commissions are different. Some commissions you have to pay the commissions, and then they put it in an account and the commission pays [the fighters]. Or in Nevada and the way that it worked in Chicago is the checks are written by us, they’re given to the commission, the commission hands out the checks and the fighters have to sign for them. Golden Glory says, ‘This can’t happen moving forward.’ I literally talked to the guy who runs it. His name is Ron, and he said, ‘We can never do business like this.’ And I said, ‘Well, we can’t do business that way. We have to pay the fighters and it’s the only way we will do it.”
If you thought Dana looked a little peeved at the start of the interview and were disappointed by how calmly he conducted himself on this topic, stick around for his answers to Mauro’s questions regarding Fedor’s elite legacy in the sport.