Alistair Overeem: Why The UFC Doesn't Co-Promote Events

Matt RandallCorrespondent ISeptember 15, 2009

There are many household names in StrikeForce, from Fedor Emelienko to Gina Carano, however, Alistair Overeem is not one of them.

Alistair has to be the most unknown MMA champion on the planet, winning his belt back in 2007, and one would imagine that he would be a top revenue earner for the MMA Company, yet, Alistair hasn’t fought in almost two years.

His last fight in the StrikeForce cage came back in November 2007 when he beat Paul Buentello into submission due to vicious knee strikes to the body.

Since then we haven’t seen Alistair defend his belt for StrikeForce, yet he has fought in four other bouts and has his fifth is schedule for November for Golden Glory’s 10 Years Anniversary Card.

The reasoning behind Overeems absence is simple, yet proving to be a hindrance to StrikeForce; co-promotion.

Overeem does not have an exclusive contract with StrikeForce, meaning, plain and simple, he can fight wherever he wants for whomever he chooses, apparently defending his belt is not high on his to-do list.

What Overeem is proving to the MMA world, is exactly how unrealistic co-promotion is and why it should be tolerated by company owners.

There is no way, whatsoever, that any other professional sport would allow such lackadaisical contract stipulations to be allowed, could you imagine, Kobe Bryant of LeBron James, going to play basketball in Europe or Japan for one of their pro team, during the regular season or even the playoffs? There would be an uproar and we would never hear the end of it.

Why StrikeForce allows fighters to get away this, almost contract loophole is puzzling, maybe it is that they need to bend their policies or their business views to sign star power to compete with its big brother counterpart, the UFC.

The UFC does not allow any fighter on their roster to have any co-promotion privileges and they wont be passing any exceptions any time soon, if ever.

Overeem is not the only fighter on the StrikeForce roster who has such a contract with includes co-promotion, the king of MMA, the enigma; Fedor Emelianenko also shares the same privileges.

Fedor just recently signed his StrikeForce contract, since not he nor  the UFC could not come to agreeable terms regarding his contract and of course the big issue at hand; co-promotion.

As upset as many people may have been in the lack of the Russian on the UFC roster, Alistair Overeem is proving exactly why Dana White and his Zuffa counterparts made the right decision in not giving in to his co-promotion demands.

StrikeForce is still a relatively new MMA company and by no means are they really starting to compete with the UFC, but they do need to at least need to put up a fight, or before they know it they will be joining Pride FC and Affliction in the MMA cemetery.

You need to have your top fighters, your title holders and your big bread winners, fight and you need to have them fight often enough to keep the relevant and keep the fans interested in them.

Case and point the two most popular fighters in the heavyweight division right now in StrikeForce are Brett Rogers and Fedor Emelianenko, neither of them are the heavyweight champion. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if Overeem was even in the top five most popular fighters in the division.

People move on far to quickly for Alistair to be going two years between fights, he needs to fight at least once a year, if not twice to make the division relevant.

If not, StrikeForce needs to make the Fedor and Rogers fight for the interim heavyweight title and hope Alistair will be back in a fashionable amount of time to defend against the winner.

For the most part - more so in the smaller organizations that don’t have the same fire power - title fights draw much more revenue than regular non title fight events.

Especially, when you are going up against such organizations that have already made a name for themselves and have broken into the mainstream like the UFC.

Co-promotion is not tolerated in other professional sports and MMA is proving why, the organizations suffer, as do the fighters coming up the ranks in the division and arguably - and more importantly – it hurts the fans, who have to wait for years to have their fighters challenge for a belt.

Which in turn hurts Scott Coker’s organizations wallet, which is really the big issue at hand, StrikeForce needs to financially but putting up big numbers every event, if they want to stay a float in the MMA world.

A belt-less Fedor will not be able to draw in the numbers that a Brock Lesnar, Randy Couture or an Anderson Silva will bring in.

Co-promotion only benefits the fighters involved and it is a problem that needs to be dealt with swiftly, before it becomes more and more popular among fighters and in turn will become more problematic for StrikeForce.