There is a lot of he-said, she-said floating around right now in regards to the Alistair Overeem and Golden Glory split. Many fans and even media are taking sides or simply rushing to comment the next chapter in the saga and try to gain some insight into the situation. I really feel like the truth lies somewhere in the middle when it comes to who is "right" and who is "wrong" and that both sides have a lot to feel slighted about. According to Golden Glory, Alistair was looking to stiff his long-time friends in his trainers by no longer giving them a percent of his earnings, instead simply giving them a flat rate like you'd see in the United States. According to Alistair's camp, Golden Glory was looking to take too much from Alistair and has now launched a "smear campaign" to make him look greedy.
For Golden Glory, it has been a trying year. After Alistair Overeem won the K-1 World Grand Prix Championship last year there were hard times coming for Golden Glory, when their vision had been anything but difficult. Golden Glory was prepared to take over the world in 2011, with the key to their success being an approach on Mixed Martial Arts in the United States and Kickboxing across the world, with the key areas being in Asia and Europe. The Glory World Series was a big part of this, and Gokhan Saki was the big feature for them. Saki suffered a few injuries in December and there was no way for him to fight early on in the year, which meant they would push back the date of their first show of the year, this being the first of many setbacks.
K-1 and Strikeforce were both going through significant turmoil at the time, and both promotions were home to quite a few Golden Glory fighters, proving to be how Golden Glory got their name and brand out to the world. Bas Boon and investors began looking into the reality of purchasing Strikeforce, and it did not seem all-that far-fetched. In fact, there was a certain air of confidence that they would soon own Strikeforce and have a serious foothold inside of the United States and immediately be competition for the UFC. On top of that, they began looking into the reality of what it would take to own K-1. Golden Glory was primed to own two of the biggest combat sports brands in the world and have inconceivable power.
For a fighter like Alistair Overeem, these were his two home bases and he was currently on top in both of them. The reality of his management owning and operating both Strikeforce and K-1 would make him one of the biggest stars in the combat sports world as soon as the ink was dry. He would go from a troubled Light Heavyweight to one of the most decorated Heavyweights in the history of combat sports and be in a prime position to not only be a star, but a wealthy star.
In the blink of an eye MMAFighting.com’s Ariel Helwani was on a jet to Zuffa’s headquarters where Dana White would announce the acquisition of Strikeforce. This was the first huge setback for Golden Glory, a deal that felt done and was possibly promised to certain fighters, was now all of a sudden in the hands of the UFC. It isn’t clear what was promised or how close to a done deal it was, only those involved with the deal will know, but there have been strong rumors stating that Golden Glory was “sure” of the deal being done, and afterwards were furious with Scott Coker.
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When it came time for Alistair’s contract negotiations Bas Boon was nowhere to be found, dealing with immense amounts of stress over the year had apparently taken a toll on him and he was in the hospital. Bas had to undergo an emergency surgery and was missing in action for weeks. Somewhere along the line, something went horribly wrong with Strikeforce and the whole of Golden Glory (except for Sergei Kharitonov!?) were released from Zuffa. So now Alistair Overeem was no longer employed and the promises of Golden Glory’s involvement with K-1 were starting to look futile.
One can only imagine what was going through Alistair’s mind and how he felt, like his management had cost him his job and all of the promises made that year have yet to materialize. As soon as Bas got out of the hospital there were a lot of wrongs quickly corrected, which meant the door to the UFC was once again open for Alistair. Bas and Alistair were quickly in the heat of negotiations again, with Bas likely understanding how fragile the relationship was at this point with all of the frustrations behind-the-scenes. In the blink of an eye Alistair Overeem was a UFC fighter and his first fight was against the former Champion Brock Lesnar.
Then, what seemed like out of nowhere to many, Alistair announced he was severing ties with Golden Glory and rumors quickly began spreading that other members of Golden Glory were parting as well. The names were big ones, like Gokhan Saki, Errol Zimmerman and Nieky Holzken. There were reports of them training at other gyms, booking their own upcoming fights and being unhappy with Golden Glory’s management, much like Alistair was. Since then it has come out that only Alistair has left and that Saki, Errol and Nieky are still with Golden Glory for the time being. To top it off, with things going wrong for K-1, Bas Boon’s attempts to purchase K-1 became very public and it was also made public that the only thing preventing the deal from being finalized was Master Kazuyoshi Ishii’s signature to the K-1 sale.
Somewhere along the line, the salvos started coming from both sides. Caught in the middle were the formation of FIKA, with Golden Glory apparently having some deep involvement, and Alistair filing a lawsuit against his former management. Then the salvos started coming quicker and with more force: Alistair was a greedy liar, looking to screw old friends out of money; Golden Glory was looking to screw Alistair out of money that he deserved; Golden Glory were thieves and unable to be trusted; Alistair betrayed those that got him to the top.
It is easy to see both sides when you take a step back and look at the whole year as it unfolded. Alistair was concerned for his future, and after a year of promises not materializing, members of GG management possibly costing him his job at Strikeforce and then him feeling like they wouldn’t “play ball” with him, he felt he had to leave. For Golden Glory a lot of the business matters were out of their hands, they were on the verge of these great things, but it took time and they were double-crossed a few times. Their trainers had always worked in a certain fashion and been paid a percentage, all of a sudden for this to change so drastically for one fighter, they saw their livelihood potentially slipping out of their hands and them having problems with fighters paying them what they considered was a fare ratio. On all sides it felt like friends and business partners had gone through some changes, some that can’t be taken back or fixed.
Disclaimer: While this article is based on factual information that LiverKick.com has gathered over the past few months, some is clearly meant as conjecture, as we can not tell you how each person feels or how their mental process works. This is simply us taking a look at the situation from an outside perspective to help others gain some perspective into why this is such a difficult situation.
Dave Walsh has been covering MMA and Kickboxing since 2007 before changing his focus solely to Kickboxing in 2009, launching what was the only English-language site dedicated to giving Kickboxing similar coverage to what MMA receives. He was the co-founder of HeadKickLegend and now LiverKick. He resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he works as a writer of all trades.
His first novel, the Godslayer, is available now.