In what is one of the more stunning developments we’ve ever seen in mixed martial arts, Strikeforce has fired its heavyweight champion, Alistair Overeem.
Overeem was originally supposed to fight on Sept. 10 on Showtime in the semifinals of Strikeforce’s heavyweight Grand Prix, but publicly stated that he wouldn’t be ready by then, as he is recovering from several injuries. On July 18, Overeem took the disagreement with Strikeforce public, saying that he wouldn’t fight on that date no matter what they said. He was almost immediately pulled from the Grand Prix, and now, two weeks later, Zuffa (the parent company of the UFC and Strikeforce) has released him from his contract.
Zuffa made a big statement to its fighters with this decision: either play by their rules or find work elsewhere. Overeem is easily one of the best heavyweights in the world, and Zuffa has numerous fighters under contract (mostly in the UFC) that could have created incredible matchups for him. Fights between Overeem and guys like Brock Lesnar, Fedor Emelianeko, Josh Barnett, Antonio Silva, Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos would have been huge draws for Zuffa. Now, it’s doubtful Overeem fights for the company any time soon.
Overeem is just 31 years old and carries a record of 35-11, but has won 10 of his last 11 fights, with one no contest. He hasn’t wasted any time booking his next fight, as he’ll step into the ring in October in Russia for the promotion United Glory. An opponent has not yet been name.