Overeem could sign with UFC

August 13, 2011

ESPN reports that Alistair Overeem was not released by Forza, LLC, the company that runs Strikeforce and is a subsidiary of the UFC’s parent company, Zuffa. Although Strikeforce exercised the right to terminate the final fight on Overeem’s contract, it appears that Overeem’s reps are willing to talk with the UFC.

Bas Boon, Overeem’s rep at Golden Glory, indicated that Overeem was “in a negotiation period with Zuffa.” While Boon did not discuss in detail, he “explained the fighter is bound to exclusive and separate 120-day negotiation and matching periods with the Las Vegas-based promoter (UFC).”

Via ESPN:

In addition to the exclusive negotiation period and, if necessary, a subsequent matching timeframe, a source with knowledge of Overeem’s contract said the fighter was not stripped of his Strikeforce belt and remains tied to the promotion via the so-called “champions clause,” a common passage in fighter contracts that allows MMA promoters to maintain contractual rights to titleholders after their deals expire.

Golden Glory issued a press release addressing the initial releases of the GG stable. In it, it also concedes to Zuffa and is willing to comply with the payment methods that were at issue. As a result, White has expressed interest in talking with GG about signing Overeem to return.

Payout Perspective:

This is a case of using the media to clarify an issue. Golden Glory’s press release set forth its side of the story regarding the release of the Golden Glory stable. Without the press release, most fans would believe Zuffa’s side of the story. For Zuffa, the press release allowed it to take a step back from its initial stance concerning the Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion. Although ESPN reports that Overeem was never let go by Strikeforce/Forza/Zuffa due to the exclusive negotiation period, this clause was never brought up in the initial Strikeforce release of Overeem.

Overeem’s retention makes sense for Forza as he is the one fighter of value  in the GG stable that White could use in the UFC. With the news that Golden Glory is willing to comply with Zuffa’s request regarding payment of fighters shows that Overeem’s management sees Zuffa as the most lucrative (and high-profile) place that Overeem could fight. Also, for Overeem, its likely that the best competition he could face would be in the UFC. Overeem could be the big star overseas as a MMA/Kickboxing/Boxing star but would be unknown to many casual American fans. He could be what the Klitschkos are to boxing. The best heavyweights in the sport, but not seen by American audiences. Overeem’s earning power (salary and sponsorships) could garner him much more in the UFC than it could in another organization. Of course, there is the matter of negotiating a salary that is the next big hurdle.

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