Alistair Overeem Explains Why He Was Removed From Strikeforce GP

Alistair Overeem's run in the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix came to a screeching halt on Monday, when he was removed from the tournament due to not agreeing to fight on Sept. 10.

MMA Fighting corresponded with the Strikeforce heavyweight champion via e-mail on Tuesday to find out why he was removed from the tournament and what's next for him.

Ariel Helwani: Are you disappointed that you were taken out of the tournament?
Alistair Overeem: Yes, of course I'm disappointed. Winning the tournament was my number one goal. I understand their position, but they have to understand mine, and I'm disappointed we couldn't work it out.

It has been reported that you have one fight left on your contract, is that true and how are negotiations going for an extension?
I don't like to talk about my contract negotiations, but the rumors about me pulling out of the tournament because of that are false. Everybody is trying to find reasons why I was pulled out of the tournament, but I can tell you this: it's not that difficult. Strikeforce promised me a date in the fall (October/November), I acted on it and chose to go on holiday and start my training in August. Zuffa/Showtime then decided to do it in September and then the ball was in my court, and I had to decline because I know it's too short of time to be prepared 100 percent Instead of postponing the event they decided that the show must go on and use one of the alternates. It's their choice, and I respect that but that don't change the fact that nobody benefits from this situation; the fans, the promotion, the event and myself are the ones that are missing out on a great tournament and a great fight. The only one that benefits out of this whole situation is Daniel Cormier, so I wish him best of luck, and I hope eventually to fight the winner of the tournament for the belt.

Showtime delayed the tournament in April, so why couldn't they delay it this time around?
I don't know but my guess is that when Zuffa took over Strikeforce there were other interests. If you look at the month of October, you can see three UFC shows and two of them are big and have title fights as the main event. That makes you wonder if they want a Grand Prix semi-final in between on Showtime.

Sept. 10 is seven weeks away. Why isn't that enough time for you to prepare for a fight?
At the moment I have started training by myself because most of my team members and trainer are on holiday, so I didn't start my real training camp yet. I have to get sparring partners from other countries and fly them in and arrange accommodations. Everything was according to plan and that was to start my fighting program on August 1. So let's take that date as my starting point, then you have to be in the States a week before the fight. So if you calculate it, then you have just four weeks and that's not enough to have a good and well prepared training for such a big fight.

You've always been known as an active fighter, for example, you competed in a combined 14 MMA and K-1 bouts in 2009-10, however, you've fought just once in 2011. Why have things changed?
There are many explanations: the level of competition and the stakes are different. It's safe to say that all those opponents aren't as good as 'Bigfoot,' the other reason is that K-1 matches are very different to train and you don't need a very long training camp if you compare it to MMA. The most important is that you can fight multiple times if you don't interrupt your training. If the September date was confirmed right after the Werdum fight, it was no problem to get in shape because I would have skipped my holiday and organized the training camp earlier. If you go on a holiday and you stop training and enjoy life by eating things you're normally aren't allowed or going out instead of sleeping then your momentum is gone and you have to start all over again and that cost extra time as well. There is a reason why UFC champions only fight two times a year.

Have you talked to Zuffa since you were removed from the tournament? If so, what's the state of your relationship with them today?
No, I didn't speak to anybody at Zuffa. I only communicate with my management and they talk to them. If you ask me what the state of our relationship is, I think nothing has changed. It would be silly to think that they don't understand my decision.

How badly injured is your toe? When can you resume training?
It's not that bad, otherwise I would have canceled [the Silva fight] because of that injury alone. It's more that my body isn't pain-free, there are minor injuries but they prevent you from training 100 percent. If you have just four-to-six weeks, and you have those minor things, then you are jeopardizing your training. I have started my training recently, and on August 1, I will have a training camp.

When do you think you will fight for Strikeforce again?
I don't know.

Is there a chance that you will fight for someone else before fighting for Strikeforce again?
I hope so. I like to be active, and like I told you, I will be ready according to the first date we agreed with Strikeforce and that is in October.

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