Reigning Strikeforce heavyweight champ Alistair Overeem along with fellow Strikeforce fighters Valentijn Overeem and Marloes Coenen and UFC heavyweight Jon Olav Einemo were cut during the last week in a surprising development. Questions arose over what precipitated the move.
On Thursday, UFC president Dana White spoke about the issues that led to the split.
"This is actually a pretty simple explanation," he said. "If you look back throughout history, we haven't had any Golden Glory guys fight with us since Semmy Schilt, right? And the reason is we have very different business practices. It's tough to do business with them. The bottom line is the way they do business is, you have to pay them, not the fighters. We don't work that way. It's not the way we do business. It's not how it works in the United States with the athletic commissions. You don't pay the managers and the managers pay the fighters. You pay the fighters and the fighters pay the managers."
White went on to say that while they had previously honored existing Strikeforce deals, it became apparent Golden Glory management wouldn't change their long-held practices.
"They won't do it," he said. "We have to pay them, not the fighters."
While White said when they brought in Einemo, Golden Glory gave in to Zuffa's request, it was apparently a onetime only change. Asked if for example, Zuffa would bring back Coenen if they once again played by Zuffa's rules, White shook his head.
"They don't and they won't," he said.
The only existing Golden Glory fighter to remain on the Zuffa payroll is Strikeforce heavyweight Sergei Kharitonov, who remains in the Heavyweight Grand Prix and is expected to fight in September. Zuffa sources said because Einemo, Valentijn Overeem and Coenen had all lost, they could be cut. They chose to honor their existing deal with Kharitonov, but are paying him directly. If he loses, he would likely be cut.
White said Golden Glory should have no issues doing things their way in other foreign promotions, but as long as they deal with U.S. athletic commissions, Zuffa can only handle business one way.
"The reality is, we're trying to work out deals with these guys and they won't do it," White said. "They said you absolutely can't pay the fighters, you have to pay us. And it's pretty simple to look back and see that the last guy who fought in UFC was Semmy Schilt. There was a reason for that."