If you didn’t believe it before, you better believe it now: Strikeforce is officially on its deathbed. When it was announced that Strikeforce had decided to remove its Heavyweight Champion, Alistair Overeem, from their World Heavyweight Grand Prix, many fans and insiders pointed to Overeem’s departure as a strong indicator that Zuffa had no plans for Strikeforce after its deal with Showtime ran out. We now have an even stronger indicator: Strikeforce has now released Alistair Overeem altogether.
The news hit the internet like a tidal wave and has since been investigated and confirmed by all the major news sites: Sherdog.com, MMA Weekly, MMA Fighting, take your pick. I wish it wasn’t true, fans and friends, but the facts don’t lie: Alistair Overeem is no longer a Strikeforce fighter.
Overeem is most famous for holding three belts at once: the DREAM Heavyweight Championship, the Strikeforce Heavyweight Championship, and the K-1 World Grand Prix Championship. At 35-11, Overeem hasn’t lost since 2007.
In all honesty, this is even more of a shocking loss than Cristiane Santos (and by the way, Santos still hasn’t officially signed to a new contract, so she’s still a free agent, meaning that I actually don’t have the worst timing ever). Whereas the release of “Cyborg” led me to believe that Zuffa wanted nothing to do with Strikeforce’s women’s division, the release of Overeem leads me to believe that Zuffa wants nothing to do with Strikeforce as a whole.
Honestly, how do you justify this as “business as usual”? How do you take the last big mega-star still in the Heavyweight tournament out of said tournament and then cut him entirely? This is bordering on insanity.
I honestly think Zuffa is beginning to systematically destroy Strikeforce in order to fold it into the UFC the second the Showtime contracts are done.
Just take a look at their current championships: the Heavyweight title is now vacated. When Dan Henderson fights Fedor Emelianenko, it’ll be the last fight on his contract. And with their previous history of bitter contract negotiations, there’s at least a fifty-fifty chance that the Zuffa brass will allow Henderson to walk with his championship too. Middleweight is “so far so good” with Ronaldo Souza as champion, but who can really challenge him? Then we have the Welterweight Championship which was also recently vacated when Nick Diaz signed to the UFC. And finally, we run into the same problem of a lack of competition for Gilbert Melendez, Strikeforce’s Lightweight Champion.
It honestly infuriates me that they’re being so transparent in their attempts to kill Strikeforce while still holding true to this “business as usual” nonsense. If Zuffa didn’t own Strikeforce, there would have been little chance that Overeem would have left, or Santos would have left, or Diaz would have left. Whether it was smart business or wasteful spending, Strikeforce did everything it could to keep its main attractions both in Strikeforce and happy with their paydays.
This news is still sending shockwaves throughout the MMA community, and rightfully so. This is the beginning of the end, fans and friends. With the champions departing in droves or not being able to come to new agreements, Strikeforce has nowhere to go and its fighters are left with nothing to fight for. As we all suspected, Strikeforce will more than likely cease to exist as soon as its deal with the Showtime network is over and done with.
Strikeforce and Zuffa really lost a lot of my respect for this. Alistair Overeem is one of my favorite fighters, and one of the few “best in the world” fighters Strikeforce has left to offer. Now that Overeem is gone, both the Heavyweight Grand Prix and the Strikeforce Heavyweight Championship have lost all meaning to me. No matter who wins the tournament and/or the belt, I’ll always wonder “could they have beaten Overeem?” And pardon the language, but it’s a damn shame that I’ll never be able to know.