One month before his octagon debut, Alistair Overeem is fighting to become a free agent.
Lawyers for the former Strikeforce heavyweight champion on Monday filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court in an attempt to wrest the Dutch fighter from his longtime management company, the Netherlands-based Golden Glory.
According to the complaint obtained by SI.com, Overeem, who fights former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar at UFC 141 on Dec. 30 in Las Vegas, alleges that the company is responsible for multiple breaches of contract in relation to a five-year management agreement he inked with Golden Glory in July 2007.
Knock Out Investments (KOI) is also named as a defendant in the complaint and identified as an affiliate to Golden Glory and/or the company under which it conducts its managerial business. The complaint states that Overeem's counsel has sent notice of the contract's termination to Golden Glory and KOI in conjunction with the lawsuit.
The filing also claims jurisdiction in California, as Golden Glory California is registered as a corporation in the state and has conducted repeated business there.
The complaint describes the contract in question as "exceedingly one-sided" in Golden Glory's favor, containing "vague and overbroad rights and obligations" believed to be unenforceable in a personal services agreement.
Among the contract details included in the complaint, Golden Glory management would be entitled to 35 percent of Overeem's pre-tax income and represent the fighter in "all matters concerning his activities as a martial arts fighter" from sponsorship to marketing to training arrangements.
Specifically, the contract includes a provision where Golden Glory would still be entitled to full compensation for any "deals within one year after this contract has expired and/or were prepared during the duration of this agreement."
The complaint alleges Golden Glory failed to fulfill its management duties with regards to negotiating and advising Overeem properly on his contracts, communicating before scheduling bouts for the fighter when he was injured, collecting payment owed him by FEG's K-1 promotion, providing adequate accounting and reimbursing the fighter for expenses, among other grievances.
According to the complaint, in July, Overeem and other Golden Glory-represented fighters were abruptly released from their fight contracts, as UFC and Strikeforce parent company Zuffa wouldn't acquiesce to the management company's practice of collecting their fighters' purses directly on their behalf. The complaint said Golden Glory later stated publicly that it had revised its practices in line with Zuffa's payment policies.
Golden Glory negotiated a multi-fight UFC contract on Overeem's behalf in September after the fighter was released from Strikeforce. However, the complaint alleges management "engaged in deceptive practices designed to conceal income" from the fighter, including "bonuses related to the UFC signing."
Overeem seeks a judicial ruling on whether he is obligated to honor the management contract in light of the alleged breaches and asks for $151,000 in back pay he claims is owed to him. Additionally, the complaint claims Golden Glory is not entitled to any portion of the earnings he makes from the UFC contract he signed in September.
"This lawsuit is a preemptive action on the part of Mr. Overeem and his counsel in response to KOI's recent notification to Mr. Overeem of numerous violations by him of his management agreement with KOI, including but not limited to his failure to pay commissions for past fights and endorsement deals secured by KOI and Golden Glory," said Roderick J. Lindblom, counsel for Golden Glory and KOI, in a press release distributed Thursday.
In the statement, Lindbolm called Overeem's claims "scurrilous," and said they'd be "vigorously defended in the proper forum."
"Alistair Overeem is a striker -- he wants to throw the first punch," said Lindblom. "But this misguided decision to file a lawsuit as a preemptive strike leaves Mr. Overeem vulnerable in ways our client wished to avoid."
The 31-year-old fighter, who's relocated to Las Vegas to prepare for the December contest, wouldn't comment on the lawsuit Wednesday, but said his main priority and focus is his upcoming bout with Lesnar.
"Training camp is on schedule," he said. "I'm actually ahead of schedule, so I'm satisfied about that. I have more sparring guys (at Xtreme Couture.) I organized this camp pretty well, but without going into too many details, let's just keep it that I'm very satisfied."