Over the past several days, the Zuffa-owned Strikeforce and UFC released all team Golden Glory members - Marloes Coenen, Jon Olav Einemo, Valentijn Overeem, and of course Strikeforce Heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem. Speculation as to the reason immediately erupted.
Then Dana White, across several interviews, detailed his reasoning.
"The Golden Glory guys told us, 'You're going to pay us. We said, 'No, we're not. We're paying the fighters directly. We're not going to do that."
"It's not the way we do business. It's not how it works in the U.S. You don't pay the manager and the manager pays the fighter. You pay the fighter, and the fighter pays the manager."
"Before a fight, the money goes into an account for the purses, and the athletic commission writes the checks. The commission writes the checks to the fighters, and then the fighters pay the managers or their trainers or whoever else they have to pay."
Golden Glory team member Marloes Coenen immediately twittered to the defense of her management, posting an image of a check written directly to her by Forza, LLC, a subsidiary of UFC and Strikeforce parent company Zuffa, LLC.
Dana White however stands behind his initial statements.
"Even when we did the deal with Einemo, we told them, 'We're paying the fighters,'" White told MMAjunkie.com. "Even though they agreed to the deal, they later came out and were flipping out during the event wanting to change the deal.'
Essentially, White isn't denying that his company wrote a check to Coenen. Instead, he's insisting that Coenen's management wasn't exactly thrilled with the arrangement and that he couldn't continue to employ that team's fighters knowing that it would prove an ongoing battle.
Additional sources close to the situation suggested Strikeforce's contracts prior to the company's acquisition may have been a little looser in structure and that payment arrangements were at times a little more creative than the black-and-white structure of the current Zuffa deals.
Further sources familiar with the negotiations suggested Golden Glory fighters are often willing to simply sign over their checks to Golden Glory, regardless to whom they are issued.
Golden Glory management has yet to speak on-record. Golden Glory co-founder Bas Boon has promised a statement will be forthcoming shortly. His primary business partner, Golden Glory founder Ron Nyqvist, remains a silent investor while completing a prison sentence for double murder
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A Dutch language article provides information on Nyqvist's imprisonment, and his continuing role in Golden Glory. A google translation appears below.
AMSTERDAM - A criminal cell serving twenty years for a double murder, organized from prison fight's Sports Gala at the Passenger Terminal in Amsterdam. The free fight gala's Golden Glory attract thousands of visitors.
These Ron Nyqvist (41), a known drug dealer in the past, a good initial contact and later was a rival of murdered real estate baron William Endstra and Willem Holleeder.
Faced with the information that criminals involved in the fighting galas, Deputy Mayor Lodewijk Asscher reacts shocked. He, justice and police action sentences.
Nyqvist shot in 2001, the twin brothers Rob and Eric Driesen death. He suspected them of the bomb that they had placed him and his girlfriend almost had killed. Nyqvist was formerly part of the 'Juliëtbende' violent drug traffickers. The kickboxer has organized for the murders and free fight gala went there after his conviction from his cell by them, assisted by partner Bas Boon.
Golden Glory is registered to Nyqvist girlfriend, but he makes no secret of his real owner. The program leaves the gala on October 17, 2009 interview late Nyqvist is the proud organizer. That he speaks from the cell remains in my memory. On October 16 is yet another gala scheduled at the Passenger Terminal.
Boon companion sees no problem in Nyqvist role. ''That guy has nine years ago in his emotion did something banal imbued where you can put question marks, but who knows the details, can understand. Those guys made plans to leave him,''says Boon. Ron''stuck, but I respect him everywhere. On paper, arrange all our partners also. Permits, the money, the tax.''
That a notorious criminal of the two biggest fights of Sports Gala's leading organizational companies, illustrates the intertwining of the increasingly popular free fight kickboxing and the underworld.
The other major promoter, It's Showtime, Saturday's annual kick boxing gala that includes the Amsterdam Arena, also has ties to criminals. Promoter Simon Rutz, himself convicted of involvement in threats and abuse, working with S. Rini, a member of the Amsterdam Hells Angels and convicted of involvement in the torture to death from a drug dealer. S. and his partner are the managers of five fighters who took office in the Arena.
The management of the Arena and director of the Passenger Terminal Kouwenberg see no problem with the galas. Kouwenberg:''If the government issues the permits, we will assume that it is all right.''(PAUL Vugt)
Image courtesy of Elias Cepeda