If you’re looking for real answers to burning questions about Strikeforce, it become evident today that UFC president Dana White, not Scott Coker, is the man you want to talk to.
In an attempt to figure out what’s going on between Zuffa and Golden Glory, Mauro Ranallo asked Scott Coker yesterday why Strikeforce suddenly released Marloes Coenen and Valentijn Overeem. Coker explained that there’s simply not enough room on the upcoming cards to give losing fighters fights. So “in fairness to the athletes,” they opted to release Coenen and V. Overeem so they would have the freedom to fight elsewhere. Transcription via MMA Mania:
“Well, you know, Mauro, that whole thing about Alistair (Overeem), I think it’s been documented. I think it’s been regurgitated over and over so I don’t know if we have to get into that. But with Valentijn (Overeem) and Marloes (Coenen), you know, right now, there’s only so many TV spots, as you know, until the middle of next year. And, uh, they’re, um, you know, in this business, you’ve gotta keep winning. So, to me, it was a situation where Valentijn had that loss, I believe in June, so that was already in the works anyway. It just seems sudden to everybody because it just all happened this week. But that was already on its way for Valentijn. The slots are going to be for the fighters that are victorious right now. We have a lot of athletes under contract and we have to get everybody fights and there’s only so many slots. There’s only so many TV dates, we only have two more TV dates on the big show before the end of the year. September is already full, December is getting full and then January is hopefully are finals and that’s going to have a full card already. So in fairness to the athletes, why just let them hang around? It’s a much fairer situation to let them go fight elsewhere and create another future somewhere else.”
So if that’s the case, should we assume Strikeforce will also cut Robbie Lawler, Paul Daley, Fabricio Werdum, Jeff Monson, KJ Noons and every other Strikeforce fighter who lost in recent months? No, probably not, which is why this is one of the weakest spin jobs we’ve seen in a while.
As for the real reason, Dana White explained after the UFC 133 pre-fight press conference today that they were cut because of the way Golden Glory handles fighter pay. Similar to M-1 Global, Golden Glory requires the promoters to pay them instead of paying the fighters directly.
“This is actually a pretty simple explanation. If you look back throughout history, we haven’t had any Golden Glory guys fight with us since Semmy Schilt, right? And the reason is we have very different business practices. It’s tough to do business with them. The bottom line is the way they do business is, you have to pay them, not the fighters. We don’t work that way. It’s not the way we do business. It’s not how it works in the United States with the athletic commissions. You don’t pay the managers and the managers pay the fighters. You pay the fighters and the fighters pay the managers.”
“The reality is, we’re trying to work out deals with these guys and they won’t do it. They said you absolutely can’t pay the fighters, you have to pay us. And it’s pretty simple to look back and see that the last guy who fought in UFC was Semmy Schilt. There was a reason for that.”
Actually, the last Golden Glory fighter to fight for the UFC was Jon Olav Einemo and that was less than two months ago, however Dana said that Golden Glory actually relented in that one instance. When trying to work out deals with their other fighters like Alistair Overeem though, Golden Glory refused to give in, so Zuffa let them go.
Update: Sergei Kharitonov will be done with Strikeforce whether he loses next month in the HWGP semi-finals or goes on to win the tournament. He has two fights left on his contract and they don’t intend to keep him around under the current circumstances, but they must honor the contract until they can legally release him.