Alistair OvereemAlistair Overeem has taken a lot of heat recently from writers and fans for not defending his Strikeforce heavyweight title since he won it nearly two years ago.

As it turns out though, there may have been a pretty good reason why. Before re-signing earlier this year to face Fabricio Werdum, Overeem hadn’t been under contract with Strikeforce since winning the title in November 2007. Or at least that’s what he told Middle Easy.

If you could tell [Brett] Rogers one thing regarding his accusations, what would you say?

My contract with Strikeforce was only made about three months before the incident, I think they let me fight against (Vitor)Belfort and Paul (Buentello) to lose, but I won. Normally in a contract it says you have to defend your title within a certain period. But my contract just ended there. As I had a long term contract with FEG, I kept fighting for Dream and K-1. It’s ironic that we finally got an offer from Strikeforce and reached an agreement, and I get in some stupid brawl and cut my hand. In jail it got infected and it took longer than expected.

That changes things considerably, don’t you think? Obviously, you can’t blame Overeem for not defending his Strikeforce title when Strikeforce didn’t have him under contract. If anything, Strikeforce only has themselves to blame for giving Alistair a title shot without some type of contingency plan in place to retain him in case he won. The “champion’s clause” may have a stigma attached to it, but you can’t deny it’s not in the best interest of the promoter to use them. Strikeforce seems to have learned their lesson though. They now have such a  clause in their contract, and according to MMA Payout’s analysis, it’s actually more restrictive than Zuffa’s.

Overeem is now set to compete in this year’s K-1 World GP, and once it’s over, Strikeforce expects him to finally defend his title. Perhaps we should give Alistair the benefit of the doubt for now and see if he defends it then before we scrutinize him any further.

Image via Sherdog