“The Demolition Man” told Ariel Helwani Monday during The MMA Hour that the promotion tried to strong-arm him into agreeing to a second-round bout with Antonio Silva a month earlier than had been earlier agreed upon.
“Stikeforce has requested me to accept the fight for Sept. 10, to agree on that, but I have not agreed on it and I also had some emails, some questions asked, is the fight confirmed? No, the fight is not confirmed. I do not confirm it and I will not confirm it.”
According to the affable Strikeforce heavyweight champ, he was told to prepare for an October date with “Bigfoot,” which would give him adequate time to heal a broken toe he went into his fight with Fabricio Werdum with and to properly prepare for Silva’s unique size and style. When his management received a call from Strikeforce telling him to be ready for the September 10 event, he said he informed them that he would likely not be able to compete on the card if they indeed moved it up. His response was apparently not well received.
“What’s going to happen next, I don’t know. I’ve had some threats of cutting me out of the tournament if I don’t participate. I don’t know if they’re going to do it. Personally, I don’t like to be threatened. If people start talking like that then…be my guest, but then I’m really not going to sing to their tune,” he said. “For them to unilaterally declare, okay, [September 10] is going to be the second round, which I never agreed on, and then threaten me if I don’t want it, it doesn’t really show a lot of respect.”
No matter what repercussions he’s threatened with, Overeem says he won’t give in and fight when he’s not prepared as he has too much riding on his fights to come in less than 100 percent and that if push comes to shove he’ll defend his K-1 title or fight for another promotion until things are resolved with Zuffa or he might even try his hands at boxing, possibly against a Klitschko.
“The thing is, there’s other promotions. There’s other stuff I can do. K-1′s going to come back. There’s some good reports on that. There’s some other promotions in the world that would love to have me fight,” he explained. “So for me, the respect thing is definitely a factor and it’s definitely important. Boxing is a new challenge. Why not? I’m a fighter who likes to fight. I love to be very active. I’m going to fight [in] October regardless. If it’s not going to be for Strikeforce, then I’ll fight somewhere else.”
It’s somewhat ironic that with Zuffa trumpeting the virtues of its new fighter insurance policy that the UFC and Strikeforce parent company would try to push one of its biggest assets into going into a fight with a nagging injury or underprepared because of the impairment. It’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out. UFC president Dana White is not known for his flexibility.