As expected, this story of Zuffa firing the Golden Glory Gang isn’t going away quietly. Firstly because the MMA blogosphere media needs shit to talk about after all, and this is some juicy shit. And secondly because many of both the media and fans are upset about it, but maybe not for the right reasons.
Predictably, Scott Coker is giving some bullshit half-assed excuses, because that’s just what he does. But we’ve all been waiting to see how the big boss-man would explain things, and now we’re told that Golden Glory was being difficult in more than one way… which was also predictable, since of course Dana would claim something like that, and since the signs were there that a rift was coming sooner or later (more on that below).
This prompted Marloes Coenen to valiantly attempt to defend the honor of her management via Twitter (props to MiddleEasy), where she posted the above photo of her paycheck from Forza/Zuffa that clearly shows her name as the payee, along with the line:
@danawhite hurts me 2 hear things about my management that are not true. #Ibelieveinthetruth #proof
OH SNAP! Your move, Dana! Right?
Well, not so fast. Like a lot of stuff that people call “proof”, this doesn’t actually prove much. It doesn’t prove that Golden Glory wasn’t and still isn’t trying to pull the “pay us, not the fighter” shit, it only proves that Marloes herself was paid directly, or at least she was this time. Dana says that Einemo and Kharitonov were/are paid directly, and while the way he’s been quoted seems to imply that Coenen wasn’t, he was probably just referring to Golden Glory in general. It appears that this has been an ongoing point of contention for some time.
If Dana’s claims of Golden Glory’s shenanigans are true (and I’m inclined to believe they at least partly are), then I get why he’s acting hard with them. At the risk of sounding like a Zuffa apologist, I’m not just playing devil’s advocate here. I would question any manager demanding to be paid directly too, and apparently that’s just not how the system operates in North America anyway. I also question if it’s a good idea to be both trained and managed by the same group of people to begin with, let alone promoted by them to boot, but that’s another discussion. What I should have included in my “fuck Zuffa”-sounding post the other day is that I was already starting to wonder if it wasn’t simply a case of being guilty by association with Alistair Overeem and his hardball tactics, but that maybe Golden Glory wasn’t so easy to deal with in general.
You didn’t have to be an industry insider or investigative reporter to already know about Golden Glory (and particularly Alistair’s) aspirations in the kickboxing scene both in Japan and Europe, and understand why this wouldn’t jive with Zuffa’s insistence on exclusive contracts. So we knew trouble was brewing, and shit was gonna happen when Alistair’s contract came up for renewal. Enter Ryan’s post earlier today about a Zach Arnold article (that linked mine, yay recognition!) that lays a lot of that stuff out better and in greater detail than I ever could. No surprise there, I’m just a part-time hack.
Let’s be honest, judging by Einemo’s performance against “Pee Wee”, he’s probably no great loss for Zuffa, and Valentijn sure as shit isn’t. They very well might have been cut regardless, particularly Oldereem. And it sucks that Alistair and Zuffa butted heads like this, but it shouldn’t have been a surprise.
The real victim here is Marloes Coenen, who got fired just because of her team affiliation… and because Zuffa doesn’t really care about womens MMA (yet). Check out Dana’s video interview with Ariel Helwani below, where he repeats his explanation (after giving Tito props and shitting all over Fedor’s corpse) and his opinion that there’s just not enough good female fighters out there for Zuffa to bother with it. When asked if there’s no immediate future for WMMA, he evades with: “I dunno, we’ll see what happens.” Well that’s fucking encouraging, eh girls? I have to think that if they gave two shits about WMMA, Cris Cyborg’s contractual limbo would surely have been cleared up by now too.
What’s a bit encouraging is that in this video Dana implies that if Golden Glory would just quit rocking the boat and accept the fighter-direct payment system, all would be forgiven. But of course, that ignores the whole K-1 thing, doesn’t it? That issue’s not gonna go away. Sergei Kharitonov’s job with Strikeforce is safe as long as he keeps winning, but he has a kickboxing career on the side too, and so could also end up a “free agent” as soon as his contract expires.
Bottom line, Alistair was likely the only one of the bunch that Zuffa gave a shit about anyway, but he tried to play hardball, so they told him (maybe literally) to go fuck himself in Japan. As for the rest, it seems it was a matter of guilty by association after all, but not just with Alistair… more like Golden Glory and Alistair and/or womanhood and/or failure.