On Tuesday, former Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem signed a multi-fight contract to join the UFC. “The Demolition Man” owns an impressive 35-11 (1 NC) resume and was last seen posting a unanimous decision victory over Fabricio Werdum in June.
“Our thinking when we bought Strikeforce was to give fans the fights they want,” UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta told The LA Times. “Obviously, Alistair’s one of the best heavyweights in the world, but he also has that ‘it’ factor — the tremendous look, he’s huge. It’s a star factor.”
Overeem’s departure from Strikeforce is a complicated one. It was initially believed the San Jose, California-based promotion released him in July, likely because he refused to compete in their Heavyweight Grand Prix when it resumes on September 10th. Overeem claimed an injured rib and toe prevented him from meeting the hard deadline, but the 31-year-old later agreed to participate in Glory World Series’ MMA/Kickboxing Tournament in October.
Reports then surfaced that Overeem was let go because of his management team Golden Glory, who have a longstanding policy of collecting payments from organizations on behalf of their fighters so they can then distribute the funds to their clients directly.
Zuffa, LLC, the parent company of the UFC, purchased Strikeforce this past March and have never played by those rules. Golden Glory has since softened on their payment requirements and are now willing to allow Zuffa to compensate their athletes directly.
However, ESPN subsequently found out that Overeem was never actually fired from Strikeforce. They claimed Overeem was engaged in exclusive and separate 120-day negotiation and matching periods with Zuffa after he declined his semifinals scrap against Antonio Silva, which happened to be the last bout on his Strikeforce contract.
Since Overeem shunned the contest, Zuffa executed clauses in the contract that allowed them to remove the final fight from his deal – in essence, making him a restricted free agent.