DREAM has finally confirmed what everyone has known all week — Alistair Overeem won’t fight at DREAM.15. Here’s DREAM Executive Producer Keiichi Sasahara’s dizzying explanation for the fiasco.
“I just want to you explain to you the background of this. Alistair was supposed to fight Andrei Arlovski and they actually both agreed, we were ready to make an official announcement and then of course then the contractual agreement needed to be signed by both fighters. However towards the end of the negotiations, because of reasons that I am not able to tell you, although the two fighters agreed to fight, it happened that these fighters could not fight. It’s not because of money, but if the reasons are something that I cannot tell you then you might be able to guess what they would be. [Ed.: Really?] Because of that, we are not able to have these two fighters fight.
“So Alistair was supposed to fight at DREAM.15 and we were trying to find new fighters or other fighters for Alistair. We offered the Alistair fight to many different fighters, but Alistair was motivated to Arlovski. Arlovski is not an easy fighter to find a replacement for. And again, we were not able to find a replacement.
“Alistair was supposed to fight Arlovski and we didn’t know who was going to be the winner. The winner was then supposed to fight at DREAM.16 in September for the heavyweight championship. But that scenario is now gone. We need to think about whether we will have the championships anyway. Maybe we will move to plan B. In any case, we would like to plan some other fighters for Alistair in the future.
So basically, Andrei Arlovski was supposed to fight Alistair Overeem, but the fight fell apart at the last minute just like it did on NYE. Oh, and they can’t tell us why, but we’re welcome to guess. Thanks, but no thanks, my head is still spinning from reading Scott Coker’s scattered thoughts on the Strikeforce middleweight tournament.
Of course, the part that Sasahara failed to explain is how they flew Overeem’s replacement opponent, Ricco Rodriguez, out to Japan under the pretense that the fight was on when it obviously wasn’t. We probably won’t get any answers for that, but the good news is DREAM is still going to pay Rodriguez. So I guess if you want to look at it on the bright side, Ricco got a paid vacation to Japan out of the ordeal.
Update: Ricco Rodriguez’s side of the story:
“They way it was explained to me was that Overeem had a contract with DREAM. Bottom line is if they find you an opponent then you are supposed to step up. I feel that Overeem and his camp didn’t want to take risk. The reality is that he doesn’t feel like I’m a worthy opponent and he has his right to feel that way. The reality is that he doesn’t want to lose to someone that wasn’t as big as Arlovski, or as big as Fedor. There was too much risk in this fight.”
“[DREAM] put me on a plane and I was signed to fight Overeem and then, from what I understand, Overeem’s camp didn’t accept the fight. They (Overeem’s camp) led us to believe that they were going to take the fight from the beginning and then, from what I was told, they were very respectful and they apologized to myself and my camp, but they would not take this particular fight.”
“I’m sad that Overeem didn’t accept [the fight]. I feel like Overeem and his camp knew that there was a possibility of a loss. They didn’t feel like it was a win-win for them and in hindsight, it was probably a good call. They don’t understand how great a shape I am in and how hungry I am for this opportunity. Seven straight wins this past year. This would have been really my time to shine here and I’m upset that it didn’t go through.”
“DREAM has been nothing but pleasant to me since I’ve been here. They made this phenomenal. I can only tell you that I’ve heard stories where people have had problems getting paid and this and that but DREAM stepped up to the plate did everything and then some. I’d be blessed to come back and work for this company. I’m not just saying that, I speak freely. They have been completely apologetic. I feel like they have been honest and they made everything very kosher with me. If this is the way they are going to do business, then I have no problem coming back and working with them.”