During a recent conference call to promote this Saturday's "Strikeforce: Heavy Artillery," where he will take on Brett Rogers in the first defense of his Strikeforce Heavyweight Championship belt, Alistair Overeem took aim, not at Rogers, but at another of Strikeforce's high-profile heavyweight fighters, Fedor Emelianenko.
"I've been challenging Fedor for some time now and Fedor -- well, not himself because I'm sure he doesn't care to fight me or not -- but his management has declined to fight me on numerous occasions," claimed Overeem. "What can you do when you have one party that wants to fight and the other party doesn't want to fight? Then, you don't have a fight."
Overeem has been absent from US MMA competition since he won the Strikeforce belt in 2007; a fact that, coupled with his impressive size gain, has led many to come to the conclusion that Overeem competed overseas for so long so that he could augment his training with anabolic steroid use and not come under the scrutiny of more strict American testing. Fedor's management firm, M-1 Global (an equally controversial figure in the world of MMA) has made such claims of Overeem in the past. Overeem has staunchly denied using steroids and believes that it is not out of fear of performance-enhancing drug use that M-1 Global will not let Fedor fight him but because they have seen up close what kind of damage he is capable of inflicting.
"I think they want to keep Fedor's status as undefeated," Overeem said. "I think they see me as a threat to that. One of the managers of M-1 Global, who I know personally, he knows the way I train. He knows what I'm capable of."
It is unclear whether or not M-1 Global representatives have ever been approached with the opportunity to fight Overeem and have turned it down. Strikeforce CEO and M-1 Global partner Scott Coker has made claim that this fight has not been talked about yet and has also said that if it does line up then he is sure Fedor will fight Overeem.
"That conversation hasn't happened and I know that Overeem's convinced that (M-1) is the reason (the fight hasn't happened)," Coker told Sherdog.com. "Depending on how the next set of (heavyweight) fights play out, the deck re-shuffles and I'm sure Fedor would fight anyone we presented to him."
Fedor made his name in PRIDE by taking on and defeating all comers so it is hard to imagine that he would shy away from fighting Overeem. However, it is possible that his management has avoided the fight due to the fact that they believe Overeem is using steroids. A strange scenario considering Fedor spent most of his career fighting in Japan where steroid testing is non-existent.
Even with American athletic commission oversight steroids can be cycled in a way that none will appear on a test, especially if you have plenty of heads up before the fight. Either way, if Fedor defeats his next opponent, Fabricio Werdum, and Overeem successfully defends his belt against Rogers this Saturday, then it will be hard to make an argument against pitting the two against each other to fight for the Strikeforce Heavyweight belt.