Alistar Overeem is out of the Strikeforce GP. | Photo: Taro Irei
In a surprising turn of events, Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem has been removed from the promotion’s 2011 heavyweight grand prix.
Brazilian website Tatame.com broke the news Monday, only hours after Overeem made strong remarks regarding his rumored Sept. 10 semifinal matchup against Antonio Silva.
“That is not going to take place,” Overeem stated in a Monday interview with MMAFighting.com. “What’s going to happen next, I don’t know. I’ve had some threats of cutting me out of the tournament if I don’t participate. I don’t know if they’re going to do it. Personally, I don’t like to be threatened.”
Overeem went on to state that he felt the September date was too soon for him to return, and that he needed time to rest and heal after his June 18 quarterfinal decision win over Fabricio Werdum. The 31-year-old Dutchman’s words apparently did not sit well with the brass at Strikeforce and parent company Zuffa, LLC, who on Monday swapped out Overeem for unbeaten up-and-comer Daniel Cormier.
Sherdog.com has confirmed with Silva’s manager, Alex Davis, that his client will no longer fight Overeem.
“Unfortunately, it’s true,” Davis told Sherdog.com. “Overeem decided not to fight. We don’t know why, but Antonio is pretty much disappointed. ... I can’t confirm who will replace Overeem, but I can guarantee Antonio will be ready. He just arrived in Rio de Janeiro to train with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and his team for the upcoming fight.”
Silva, 31, currently rides a three-fight win streak in the Strikeforce cage. In February, the Brazilian “Bigfoot” stunned former Pride Fighting Championships heavyweight ruler Fedor Emelianenko, battering the Russian great to force a medical stoppage after two rounds.
A former U.S. Olympic wrestling team captain, 32-year-old Cormier has turned away all comers since beginning his MMA career in 2009. The American Kickboxing Academy fighter is 3-0 in Strikeforce, most recently notching a unanimous decision over tough veteran Jeff Monson in June.