(Overeem is hoping to add the GP belt to his growing gold collection before the end of the year.)
When Strikeforce announced today that it was postponing the second half of the opening round bouts of its heavyweight grand prix tournament until June, critics quickly began hypothesizing that the promotion’s current heavyweight champion, Alistair Overeem would likely not sit out from competing elsewhere while the tournament brackets get sorted out.
According to Overeem’s trainer Martijn de Jong, “The Reem” will stay true to his proclamation that the grand prix is his number one priority this year and the K-1 and DREAM heavyweight champion will not fight for any other promotion until his tournament obligations are fulfilled, even if it takes all year.
“Alistair wont be fighting anywhere but the Grand Prix,” De Jong wrote in a text message he sent CagePotato.com today. “It is and stays his first priority.”
The commitment to Strikeforce and to fighting the pool of top-tier heavyweights in the tournament should quiet Overeem’s detractors who knocked “The Demolition Man” for the caliber of competition he has faced recently and for taking two-and-a-half-years to defend the Strikeforce strap he won in 2007. In that same span he fought 14 times, competing for K-1 eight times, DREAM four times and Ultimate Glory twice in a mixture of kickboxing and MMA bouts. He fought seven times last year.
According to Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker, Alistair will face the opponent he asked to take on in his first tournament bout, Fabricio Werdum, at the June 18 event, which will take place at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. If all goes as planned, the semi-finals should get underway some time in August or September, with the final penciled in for November or December.
Sources we’ve spoken to reveal that Strikeforce has applied for a promoter’s license in Ontario, Canada, so it’s possible that the semi-final or final round could take place in Toronto or Hamilton. Another viable location for one of the events would be Japan, where the Overeem brothers, Josh Barnett, Fabricio Werdum, Sergei Kharitonov and Antonio Silva are all very popular with the country’s MMA fans.