Hours after Alistair Overeem went on The MMA Hour and claimed Zuffa threatened to pull him from the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix if he didn’t agree to fight in the semi-finals on September 10, Zuffa decided to make good on those threats. Tatame and MMA Junkie have the unbelievable news.
In a shocking development, MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) has confirmed that Overeem has been pulled from the tournament, and Daniel Cormier (8-0 MMA, 5-0 SF) will take his spot in the semifinals of the promotion’s heavyweight grand prix.
The change was first reported by Tatame.com. It’s currently unclear if Overeem is still under contract with the promotion or if Strikeforce brass elected to hand their heavyweight champion an outright release.
Reacting to the news, Antonio Silva said he doesn’t care who he fights.
“I don’t care who they put against me,” Silva today told MMAjunkie.com through his manager and interpreter, Alex Davis. “If Overeem doesn’t want to fight because his toe is hurt, then get me King Kong. Get Josh Barnett and Sergei Kharitonov both. I’ll fight them both at the same time.
“I’m very frustrated and disappointed that someone who is considered one of the best fighters in the world would basically withdraw from the competition and refuse to fight me. Overeem is a great guy, but I don’t really like what he’s doing right now as a fighter. Either way, I don’t pick my opponents. I would have much rather Cain Velasquez stepped in for Overeem because I want to prove I’m the best heavyweight in the world. But I’m not taking Cormier lightly, either. I’ll continue to train just as hard as if I was still facing Overeem.”
Instead, Silva will fight an undefeated Daniel Cormier in the semi-finals and we’re left wondering if Alistair Overeem is even in Strikeforce anymore.
I don’t know about you, but my interest level in the rest of this tournament just dropped big time.
Update: So official word from Dana White is that Alistair Overeem is still with Strikeforce and was only pulled off the tournament because he has a nagging “pinky toe injury.”
“Sept. 10 was the date Showtime wants us to go, so it’s the date we’ve got to go,” White said. “It’s unfortunate that Alistair is unavailable, but situations like this are why there are alternates in the tournament.”
“Overeem is under contract, and when his pinky toe heals up, we’ll get him another fight,” White said.
Yes, I’m as skeptical about that as you are.
Update: Dana White stuck his guns today at the UFC 135 press conference today when asked if a toe injury was the real reason Overeem is off the GP.
“He hurt his toe, pulled out of the fight,” he said. “He’s still under contract. The date that was set in September was set by Showtime, and it is what it is. We’ve got to get an alternate in there, but he’s still under contract.
“If you say you’re hurt, you’re hurt,” he continued. “What are you gonna do? There’s been a lot of that lately. If I got mad at guys who got hurt, I’d be really pissed off right now. It is what it is.”
Also, Dana seems to have gotten over Lyoto Machida asking for “Anderson Silva money” to replace Phil Davis on short notice at UFC 133. He says “things are going to work out with Machida.”