As ambitious as it was to put together the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament, it has been anything but smooth. The latest bump comes off of a rumor that if true, could practically kill the entire idea. Alistair Overeem may not only be pulling out of the tournament, but could be leaving Strikeforce altogether.
The latest MMA rumor spreading like wildfire says that Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem is not only pulling out of the Grand Prix, but that he will relinquish his championship and sign an official UFC contract. The rumor was posted on a message board that posted news about the Lesnar UFC 131 cancelation before it was announced, thus giving this rumor a little more attention than usual.
When UFC president Dana White said that it would be “business as usual for Strikeforce”, he obviously meant the instability and frequent changes to matchups. There were many in the MMA world that believed the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix would either never see a final fight or wind up new participants similar to the Super Six before the tournament’s end. If these rumors are true, my prediction is that this tournament is finished and the UFC will slowly start to swallow the heavyweights for its division.
“Allistar Overeem has had A rocky relationship with the coker regeime… Allistar was not happy with coker dicking him around with the fedor fight that was promised to him… Also Not happy with the long layoff between the rogers fight and some contractual matters… Coker extended an olive branch in obtaining Valentjn overeem to smooth t
Now the next part is rumor there have been rumblings and info changing daily on this… My sources are tight lipped… But the overeem vs werdum fight is not guaranteed… Ive asked about injury but zuffa has been coy with info being leaked…
Ive been told dont be surprised if overeem pulls out of the tournament and relinquishes the championship… Overeem could possibly be crossing over to the ufc… This would make the Tournament finals for the championship and makes a debut ppv more interesting… This as i said is rumor i know there have been talks and the fight is not cancelled and is still official but was told dont be surprised… This can change daily so I will try too keep updated with more info as I find out more but its not a guaranteed more to come.”
As crazy as the rumor may be, it actually does make a lot of sense. It is true that Alistair Overeem was frustrated with Strikeforce. There were flirtations in the past between Overeem and the UFC. Overeem’s international commitments were reportedly the biggest holdup in getting a deal done. With K1 & DREAM practically on life support, the international fights are not a priority anymore for Overeem. Cashing in now, while in his prime with the UFC makes a lot more sense than risking a potential big contract in the future by coming up short in the tournament.
Zuffa, LLC owns Strikeforce and the contracts. It wouldn’t take much for Zuffa to come in, void Overeem’s contract, and immediately sign him to a UFC deal. For Zuffa, it also makes all of the sense in the world. Dana White just watched his biggest draw in Brock Lesnar retreat to the sidelines for what appears to be at minimum a year. Without Lesnar, there are no potential big draws against Cain Velasquez. Why not move Overeem over to make up for the loss of Lesnar? Between his reputation and the Strikeforce and Pride FC library, the UFC could have a blockbuster with Overeem vs. Velasquez as well as other potential Overeeem fights.
Please understand that this is only a rumor. However, there have been rumors about Overeem pulling out of the Grand Prix for months now. At one point Shane Carwin was rumored to be taking his place. The rumor grew so fast that Carwin had to take to Twitter to deny it. With all of the people involved in training, fight camps, sponsorships, management, and marketing it is much easier to get leaked information early from the UFC than it is in most sports. I heard about Lesnar’s injury for a week prior to the announcement and even tweeted about it. This whole idea is certainly plausible.
I would guess that if Overeem pulls out of the tournament it is over. Maybe Strikeforce pits Brett Rogers vs. Fabricio Werdum for the vacated title in June (leaving the headaches of booking Josh Barnett behind them) or moves all of its heavyweights over to the UFC? Either way it would seem rather moot to continue with the Grand Prix without Fedor or Overeem.
Again this is all rumor, but it is certainly a rumor that has a lot of people talking.
Dana White took questions from UFC fans and media this week at a Toronto press conference. The name Alistair Overeem was brought up to the UFC president and the questioner wanted to know when he’s coming to the UFC. Not only was White complimentary towards Overeem, he said he’d sign him if he could.
This is news on a few different levels. I think this shows most importantly the ascension of Alistair Overeem and his relevance among casual MMA fans. For the last three years it was Fedor, Fedor, Fedor. Whether fans have moved on from Fedor Emelianenko or have just come to the conclusion that it isn’t happening, the focus among many MMA fans seems to be seeing the UFC sign Alistair Ovreem.
Another newsworthy component here was Dana White’s answer. In the past White would get angry when asked about signing Fedor and would at times cut a promo as to why Fedor is overrated. There was no anger here at all. White said he respected Overeem and said flat out, “If I could get him in the UFC, I’d do it.” White also prefaced this by saying he always wants the best guys. Interesting answer from a guy that rarely offers other fighters outside of the UFC compliments.
I came across an interview with Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem on You Tube from May 2010. Overeem was asked why he hasn’t signed with the UFC. Overeem cited that there was too much control in the contract the UFC presented to him. He stated that the UFC can control how often you fight, when you fight, and would have kept him exclusive. The issue there is Overeem fights quite a bit internationally and reportedly makes a ton of money to do it. Overeem says in the interview that K1 and DREAM made him a great offer which is why he opted to go in that direction rather than sign with the UFC.
There have been flirtations between the UFC and Overeem as Overeem stated above. Dana White and Overeem have publicly appeared together and Overeem has even said that he would like to fight in the UFC at some point. This is much different than Fedor Emelianenko who has rarely said anything at all to lead the MMA public to believe he wants to fight in the UFC.
How would Overeem stack up in the UFC? Well one of the biggest points of contention Overeem critics will bring up his lack of quality opponents. It is a fair statement but that will change with him being entered in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament. He has a first round fight against Fabricio Werdum and would fight Fedor in the following round if both win their fights. Overeem has a serious chance to quiet his critics by winning this tournament, at least his first two fights.
One of the big factors into getting Overeem into the UFC would be the rumors of the financial troubles of DREAM and K1. “The current course is that FEG will die”, said President Sadaharu Tanikawa. The demise of DREAM and K1 would eliminate a lot of financial opportunity for Overeem who appears to be a very smart businessman. As of today DREAM and K1 are still kicking, but that could change at any time depending upon what you read. It would be difficult for Strikeforce to compete with the UFC for Overeem if you take the international bookings out of the equation.
I don’t know what Overeem’s contract is with Strikeforce but I will presume he has at least three fights since he is in the tournament (then again it is Strikeforce). Could you imagine the impact of Alistair Overeem winning the Grand Prix and showing up when it is over in the UFC? It could happen and my prediction is that Alistair Overeem will be in the UFC in 2012.
He won three world titles across two continents in one year. He had five fights stopped due to TKO or knockout in one round. He has the most dominant year in heavyweight combat sports and his name isn’t Brock, Cain, or Fedor. Alistair Overeem dominated 2010 and may be the best heavyweight in MMA.
It is funny when you debate the best in MMA and talk about heavyweights. The overall consensus nowadays is UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez. After his dominant 2010, the champ is universally regarded as number one. The debate at number two across MMA forums and websites bounce back between Brock Lesnar and Fedor Emelianenko. The irony here is that arguably the best heavyweight fighter in MMA barely makes most top five arguments and chances are he would beat any and all of the top ten if given the chance.
Alistair Overeem doesn’t get the recognition he rightly deserves. I think a part of this is his own fault. Coming into 2010 Overeem was simply known as that heavyweight champion in Strikeforce who never fights. He sure changed that in the last twelve months. If you go back to his loss last December in the K1 Grand Prix tournament, Overeem has since run off one of the most impressive streak of high level fighting since Fedor’s run last decade. Granted the better competition came in kick boxing, I really think that the K1 success needs to be taken into account when assessing Overeem as an MMA fighter. If Cain Velasquez entered and won the Abu Dhabi championship in 2010 you can’t tell me that fans wouldn’t take that into account when assessing his success as an MMA fighter for the year.
Now before hardcore MMA fans start screaming about Overeem’s competition, I will agree he doesn’t always fight the best available opponents. However, I think there is something to be said about a guy that takes eight fights in twelve months and wins seven of them in the first round via TKO or KO regardless of the competition. His destruction of Brett Rogers may not be impressive if you look at Rogers record and experience. However, Rogers did win a round against the great Fedor Emelianenko. Gokham Saki, Kazuyuki Fujita, Tyrone Spong, and certainly Peter Aerts are not pushovers. Alistair Overeem is on fire!
Overeem’s success in kickboxing arguably makes him the best striker in all of heavyweight MMA. Combined with his awesome submission skills, he is a heavyweight fighting machine. Brock Lesnar wouldn’t stand a chance. Cain Velasquez would have a hard time countering him. Frank Mir and Shane Carwin would have puncher’s chances but would get creamed on the ground. Fedor Emelianenko looks like he may be at an age where his speed and reflexes wouldn’t match Overeem. We will find out soon enough about Fabricio Werdum. If those are your standard top MMA heavyweight fighters than I feel that Overeem is currently number one.
It is funny because even after Fedor lost to Fabricio Werdum there are still MMA fans banging the drum for the UFC to sign Fedor. I think if Dana White was going to put $30 million into Fedor a few years back, the signing of Overeem would be a no brainer. In addition to his fighting acumen, Overeem is an entertainer. As a pro wrestling fan growing up, Overeem gets the show aspect of combat sports and can be a marketing gold mine for the UFC if he were to win the heavyweight title.
Of course Overeem is under contract to Strikeforce which at this point makes signing him a moot point. However, this is not a situation like the Fedor-UFC negotiations where you have bad blood between two parties here that could prevent business. Dana White and Overeem have publicly appeared together and Overeem has even said that he would like to fight in the UFC at some point. Until Overeem becomes a free agent a deal with the UFC isn’t anything to speculate on.
The baggage with Overeem is that he is seen as an elite fighter that ducks competition. His detractors will say that Overeem would rather take a weaker fight in another country where he is more popular than step up and face the best. I disagree. Entering K1 Grand Prix tournaments two years in a row eliminates that myth as far as I am concerned. Additionally, Overeem has been calling out Fedor for months. While Fedor may or may not be on the decline of his career, he is the best available opponent for Overeem in MMA. The fact that the two haven’t fought or signed a fight is nothing that can be laid at the feet of Overeem. That could change in 2011.
There are a lot of pro wrestling elements that bleed over into Mixed Martial Arts. One is the glamorous WWE and wrestling entrance. While most MMA fighters are more concerned with wins and losses, some MMA fiighters make the most of their moment by creating exciting and elaborate MMA entrances. Here is a compilation of some of the best MMA entrances of all time.
Take note of a few things as you watch these videos. One, the majority of the great MMA entrances come from Japan. The Japanese have been much more diligent in blending the elements of pro wrestling and MMA together than the UFC has. Strikeforce has been known to offer some great entrances, but their small entrance ramp is really constrictive to creating any kind of spectacle. The Japanese get it right and create huge entrance ramps and runways with the sole purpose of promoting these elaborate MMA entrances. DREAM and Heroes MMA in particular are featured quite prominently in the videos. While not featured, PRIDE FC had some classic entrances in its day.
The other thing to take note of is how many of these great entrances feature Jason “Mayhem” Miller. The host of MTV’s Bully Beatdown is one of if not the best in America at creating elaborate and memorable MMA entrances. Miller is not shy about being a huge pro wrestling and passion for it has allowed him to become one of the best when it comes to entrances and promos. King Mo, Rampage Jackson, and Tito Ortiz are also big pro wrestling fans have done a great job of channeling those influences to inspire some of the greatest MMA promos and entrances of all time. Genki Sudo is the king of the entrance in Japan and also highly influenced by pro wrestling.
I understand that it could be a bit tricky to get to “pro wrestling” but the UFC could really take things to another level by embracing some of wrestling’s influences. How cool would it be to see UFC fighters walk to the octagon on a big stage and big ramp? I am not expecting to see Brock Lesnar dance down the stage with a bunch of school girls, but there are some other fighters that could really make names for themselves on entrances alone. Taking into account that Scott Coker gets it with some of the entrances I have seen in Strikeforce, it would be great to see him step up and allow his fighters to enter on a grand stage like they do in Japan. It may not be something that hardcore MMA fans want to see, but it would be something different that separates Strikeforce from the competition.