The Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix lost much of its luster when it was announced that champion Alistair Overeem would have to pull out of the tournament after having injured his toe.
In what can likely be attributed to ongoing contract renewal negotiations, Overeem recently spoke with MMAFighting.com and indicated that things were actually more complicated than that and that he felt as though he were essentially forced off of the card due by the Zuffa head office.
UFC president Dana White also recently spoke with MMAFighting and addressed “The Demolition Man’s” take on things.
“Showtime picked the date for September — they control the dates and that’s when they want to have it — and they told us he had to pull out of the tournament,” said White in reference to Overeem’s injury. “Just to clarify, because I’ve seen on Twitter where they’re saying he was taken out of the tournament. Why the hell would we take Alistair Overeem out of the tournament? He said that he couldn’t compete because he hurt his toe.”
White explained that he’s frustrated to see the tournament’s main draw (with Fedor Emelianenko having been eliminated) also removed from the bracket, but reiterated that it was Overeem’s choice to be taken out of the tournament and not his or Zuffa’s.
“Yeah,” he said when asked if he was disappointed by the situation. “I mean, it sucks, but what are you gonna do? That’s up to him and his camp; they decided to pull out of this fight. It has nothing to do with us. He was never strong-armed or bullied or disrespected in any way shape or form.”