Strikeforce has released its heavyweight champion.
Inside MMA has reported tonight on HDNet that Alistair Overeem has been cut by the promotion following his inability to participate in a scheduled match-up against Antonio Silva on Sept. 10 in the heavyweight grand prix tournament.
This furthers a rather amazing story that began back in March when Zuffa purchased the San Jose based promotion and effectively took over a controlling stake in each fighter signed to the company.
That included "The Reem," a highly sought after commodity thanks to his recent exploits in K-1 and his being the heavyweight champion of the world's number two mixed martial arts organization.
He was inserted into the landmark heavyweight grand prix tournament before the Zuffa purchase, however. Take that how you will. After winning his opening round bout by defeating Fabricio Werdum, "Demolition Man" began talking about a potential move to boxing in addition to but not necessarily at the expense of, heading back to K-1.
That's all well and good but then Showtime settled on a date of Sept. 10, 2011, for the continuation of the grand prix, which would see Overeem take on Antonio Silva in the semi-finals.
This is where it really gets interesting.
Overeem immediately balked at the date, outright telling his employers that he refused to fight an earlier than October due to nagging injuries and the inability to properly prepare in time for an opponent the caliber of Silva.
So he was yanked ... or he pulled out ... something like that.
Conflicting stories quickly emerged on both sides of the coin. Overeem claimed his job was threatened if he didn't make the Sept. 10 date. He remained steadfast in his assertion that he would not be available at that time, at which point it was revealed he would no longer participate in the tournament.
Whether he was removed or forfeited his spot didn't seem to matter at the time.
However, interestingly enough, shortly after all this went down, Overeem accepted a fight booking in an MMA bout over in Russia with United Glory. The contest is scheduled for October but an opponent is unknown at this time.
"The Reem's" contract states that he is able to do such a thing but timing is key and it wouldn't seem to be a coincidence that shortly after he is released by Strikeforce.
A promotion he is still the heavyweight champion of.
Of course, speculation is running rampant that this is simply a strategic move by Zuffa to figure out a way to sign Overeem to a contract with the UFC.
Or, the powers that be are simply pissed that he skipped out on fighting Silva in the heavyweight tournament only to run to Mother Russia just a month later for a fight outside the promotion.
A whole lot of angles to consider here, Maniacs. Anyone care to figure this one out?
We'll have more as it comes in but in the meantime, here's the video of the announcement on Inside MMA earlier: