Last week Strikeforce announced they were cutting their heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem. Today Overeem's gym Golden Glory announced that three of their other fighters under contract to Zuffa (Marloes Coenen, Valentijn Overeem, and Jon Olav Einemo) were all cut. Coenen and Overeem were Strikeforce fighters and Einemo had just won Fight of the Night after losing his UFC debut to Dave Herman at UFC 131.
The only remaining Golden Glory fighter in either of Zuffa's promotions are heavyweight Sergei Kharitonov who's got a semi-final berth in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix. Of course Alistair Overeem had earned a semi-final berth too.
Golden Glory requires that all fighter purses are paid directly to GG's manager Martijn De Jong and not the fighters. Forza/Zuffa asked that to be changed, as it has a direct payment to fighters policy. De Jong wouldn't change the policy so his fighters were cut. It's unclear how that impacted Einemo who was presumably being paid direct as a UFC fighter.
Golden Glory is publicly saying they're completely surprised by the moves.
So why is Zuffa doing this?
Well veteran MMA writer Loretta Hunt says it's because Golden Glory is looking to promote fights in the U.S. market, but there's more going on than that.
Golden Glory is primarily a kickboxing gym. Alistair Overeem is the champion of K-1, the Japanese promotion that has been kickboxing's major league for almost 20 years. Unfortunately, K-1 is a victim of the Japanese combat sports implosion that killed Pride, Dream, Sengoku and has even mortally wounded Sumo wrestling.
It's not just Japan either. Holland, home of Golden Glory has cracked down on kickboxing events in Amsterdam due to a variety of reasons. Cultural shift to the right is one. But alleged linkages between kickboxing figures and organized crime is possibly another.
It was announced last week that K-1 had been purchased by a Japanese real estate company.
It was also announced last week that Alistair Overeem had been cut by Strikeforce and that his next fight would be in Moscow in an event promoted by Golden Glory, er United Glory, a promotion owned by Golden Glory boss Martijn De Jong.
I'm sure it's all just a bunch of coincidences and I certainly have no inside sources, but keep your eyes on Golden Glory.