HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. – With last night’s news of Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem’s release, you have to wonder about the timing. Inside MMA broke the news just 24 hours before one of the promotion’s most intriguing match-ups in Fedor Emelianenko and Dan Henderson, which is -- depending on if you are a conspiracy theorist or not -- either mere coincidence or motivated coincidence.
The reason for Overeem’s sudden boot? Zuffa officials aren’t saying, but one assumes insubordination, defiance and attitude. These are not the hallmarks of a Zuffa champion -- titles are not necessarily meant to be entitlements.
It’s a lot to get used to in a hurry. Overeem was considered one of the favorites to win the Strikeforce heavyweight GP just a couple of weeks ago before things started going south. He was removed from the grand prix with a sort of injury/bad timing parlay, which he said would prevent him from competing in the semifinals on Sept. 10. This bummed just about everybody out. Then he started talking about boxing Vitali Klitschko, which had a madcap flavor to it, just before signing on for a Glory World Series event in October days later. The sum of these parts added up to something like a slap in Zuffa’s face.
If there’s one constant in Overeem’s career it’s that he likes to do it his way, and he likes to stray. Bottom line is, Zuffa didn’t like the direction he was straying, and now he’s gone.
And what they played, was a masquerade
Did you catch the strangely inappropriate comment that Scott Coker made to MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani when asked why Marloes Coenen wasn’t at the prefight news conference? “I'm not sure -- I hear that she was running late, a makeup issue or a wardrobe malfunction or something like that,” he said. “Nothing serious.” This was uncharacteristic for Coker. One for taking a stab at being funny (refreshing), and two because the last thing you want to do when part of your company’s goal is to legitimize women’s MMA is to stereotype the subjects. To his defense, there’s a lot on his mind this weekend, and not all of it pleasant.
End of an era
Scott Smith openly acknowledges this could be it for him in Strikeforce after losing two in a row, so he’d better bring it. In other words, Smith is going in there with the mindset of Smith. He gets a lot of heat for keeping the head stationary while flinging overhands in hopes that the exchange works out. We call his fights “wars.” More practiced eyes might call it roulette. Either way, this is likely Smith’s last play at relevancy before he becomes the comeback kid not in a fight, but in his career.
What did she just say?
During their stare down at the weigh-ins yesterday, Dutch fighter Marloes Coenen said something to Miesha Tate.
What was it?
“I have no idea,” said Tate afterwards. “I couldn’t figure it out, but she seemed to be shaking. Whatever it was it didn’t seem friendly. But that’s great; I love it. I’m evidently in her head.”
25:1 -- Odds-off favorite
Flashing back to the beginning of 2011, when the Strikeforce GP was getting set to kick off with eight of the most dangerous big guys going, Daniel Cormier wishes he’d stopped by a Vegas sportsbook to play his own odds.
“Before, I guess in January, if you bet $100 [on Cormier] you could win $2,500,” he said. “But I was kind of outside of the tournament as an alternate, so it didn’t really matter. God -- I wish I would have [thrown] some money down back then. I could have made some cash on this thing.”