This time last week, Alistair Overeem was the Strikeforce heavyweight champion. Now, he and three of his Golden Glory teammates have been released from their contracts with Zuffa, the parent company of both Strikeforce and the UFC.
Less than a week after Overeem was released, Golden Glory head coach Martin de Jong confirmed via Twitter that former women’s bantamweight champion Marloes Coenen, Jon Olav Einemo and Overeem’s older brother Valentijn have all be let go from their contracts as well. Not only does this show the tenuous relationship between Zuffa and the elite team based in the Netherlands, but it also paints a grim picture for the future of Women’s MMA in the company as well.
Just this past Saturday, Coenen stepped into the Strikeforce cage as the defending women’s 135 pound champion, one half of the co-main event. Though she was defeated by Miesha Tate, the bout was highly entertaining and Coenen remains one of the most talented and recognizable fighters on the female side of the sport.
While her release amidst the ongoing drama between her team and her now former employers can be seen as collateral damage, it still shows a lack of commitment to Women’s MMA from Zuffa. It’s difficult to envision a similar move being made with an elite former champion on the men’s roster.
Both Einemo and the elder Overeem are coming off losses and are past their prime, so their releases would be less newsworthy if not for the timing. Einemo lost to Dave Herman two months ago at UFC 131, while Overeem was defeated by Chad Griggs a week later in Dallas.