(Leave it to Strikeforce to try to kill the momentum of a promising prospect.)
CagePotato has learned that immediately following his impressive heavyweight grand prix reserve bout win over Gian Villante at Strikeforce’s Fedor vs. Silva event two-and-a-half weeks ago, Chad Griggs was offered a slot on this weekend’s Strikeforce: Feijao vs. Henderson card. A source we spoke to revealed that “The Gravedigger” turned down both bouts he was offered with fellow tournament reservists Valentijn Overeem and former Olympic wrestler Daniel Cormier as there simply wasn’t adequate time for the full-time paramedic-firefighter to prepare for such a pivotal potential bout.
It turned out that neither match-up would have come to fruition even if Griggs had agreed to face one of the opponents he was offered as the Tucson, Arizona fighter was handed a 30-day precautionary suspension by the New Jersey Athletic Control Board for a hematoma he sustained on his ear during the fight with Villante.
Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker mentioned during the post-fight press conference last month in New Jersey that he planned on keeping the tournament reserve fighters busy competing in non-tournament bouts, but the risk to a guy like Griggs losing to a fellow tournament sub or a prospect like Cormier (whom Coker has stated he’d like to see added to the pool of grand prix reservists) would be that he would likely be given less consideration if and when M-1…I mean “the mysterious voting panel” decides which replacement fighter should step in for an injured competitor.
If I was a betting man, I’d say that Coker and company are setting the stage for a triumphant return of Fedor Emelianenko to the tourney by having the reservists thin out the field before the first round is over. I could see him matching up Fedor with Valentijn or Shane Del Rosario at the June event to see who is first in line to replace an injured semi-finalist.