(Once you feel the warmth and security of those big gloves around your hands, it’s almost impossible to go back.)
Earlier today K-1 announced eight fights for their September 26 event in Seoul, South Korea and, wouldn’t you know it, Alistair Overeem’s hand has healed up enough to allow him to take on Peter Aerts in what will be the opening round of this year’s Grand Prix.
Overeem was the number one choice in a fan poll designed to choose the final three GP participants, coming in ahead of second-place choice Melvin Manhoef, who’ll be taking on Remy Bonjasky in the tournament, and third-place selection Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, who won’t be fighting at all because he has a UFC contract and a damn MMA career to focus on. We can’t help but feel that there’s a lesson somewhere in all this that Strikeforce ought to be learning.
Technically, Overeem is still the Strikeforce heavyweight champ, even though he has not defended the belt at all since winning it in November of 2007. In the almost two years since then he’s had three MMA fights in Dream and one back home in the Netherlands, where he submitted Gary Goodridge in his most recent small-gloved effort last November. He’s also had two fights in K-1, knocking out Badr Hari on last year’s New Year’s Eve show before losing a decision to Remy Bonjasky in March.
That’s six fights in a little less than two years, which is pretty impressive. But let’s be real, if the Strikeforce heavyweight title were a child, this is about the point where Protective Services would come and take it away from him due to neglect. In fact, I’m starting to wonder whether he even knows where that belt is. Maybe that’s part of the problem.
For all we know, the reason he keeps avoiding title defenses is not because his old street-fighting injuries keep acting up — after all, it is odd that he couldn’t fight in August but can fight one month later, presumbaly after doing some kind of training that involves punching things with his hand. Instead, I think it’s because he doesn’t want to have to admit to Scott Coker that he lost the belt. Sounds stupid now, but wait until he finally shows up to fight the winner of the Fedor Emelianenko/Brett Rogers scrap wearing a belt from Macy’s with a dinner plate glued to it that has “Strikforse” written across it in shoe polish.