It struck us as blindly optimistic when Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker announced that the second leg of his heavyweight tournament quarterfinals would take place on April 9th, even before he had a venue (or a host country) locked down. If it was just a matter of finding an arena with an open date on its schedule, it wouldn’t be a problem, but Josh Barnett‘s licensing issues made the task a lot more challenging.
So it’s really no surprise to read this new Sherdog report, which claims that Strikeforce’s remaining heavyweight tournament quarterfinals — Barnett vs. Brett Rogers, and Alistair Overeem vs. Fabricio Werdum — won’t be happening on April 9th after all. Sources close to the promotion tell Sherdog that Strikeforce will host their 4/9 event in California (a forbidden zone for the Babyface Assassin), but with no tournament fights on the card. Instead, the event will feature a lightweight title fight between Gilbert Melendez and Tatsuya Kawajiri — a rematch of their bout at PRIDE Shockwave 2006 — and possibly another welterweight title defense from Nick Diaz (opponent TBA, though Paul Daley and Tyron Woodley are options).
Anyway, that’s what some sources are saying. Other sources hear it differently…
After the Sherdog report came out, ESPN’s Josh Gross semi-refuted the news via Twitter, writing: “Sherdog cites unnamed sources that Strikeforce’s 2nd leg of HW GP not on April 9 card. Counters what I heard today re: St. Louis or Houston [as venues for 4/9 grand prix bouts]. I’m not sure what to believe. Coker won’t get back to me. People on his staff say they have no idea what he has planned.”
Josh Barnett adds: “I don’t really have anything to say about it. I have not heard anything from the promotion yet.”
After an impressive television turnout for “Fedor vs. Silva,” and the growing excitement for the Overeem vs. Werdum match, Strikeforce has legitimate momentum surrounding their heavyweight tournament. Failure to book a date and a venue is the last thing the promotion needs right now. It doesn’t have to be April 9th, but fans can’t be expected to hold their interest indefinitely. If Josh Barnett is the wrench in the works, so to speak, it might be worth ditching him for an alternate — Shane Del Rosario, or even Fedor Emelianenko — just so the tournament can continue on schedule.