(Will Strikeforce pull off this tournament?)
Strikeforce announced today via press release that its planned April 9 event which was supposed to play host to the remainder of the opening round bouts of its heavyweight grand prix tournament will be put on hold until the summer. According to the promotion’s CEO, Scott Coker, they ran out of time to properly promote the event.
“Strikeforce is coming off a record presale and impressive attendance for the kickoff of the Grand Prix at IZOD Center in New Jersey that also drew a record viewership on SHOWTIME for live MMA,” said STRIKEFORCE CEO Scott Coker. “To build on the tremendous momentum from New Jersey we needed the proper time to promote an event of this magnitude, which is why we have decided to continue the Tournament on June 18 at American Airlines Center in Dallas, a venue that has been identified as one of the premier sports and entertainment venues in the U.S.”
So let me get this straight. Strikeforce wanted to build on the tremendous momentum created by the success of its first grand prix quarter final event, so it decided it would be best to delay the second event by two months? Seems like a logical way to keep the momentum going.
If it’s any consolation, the April show will feature a pair of title bouts and a handful of other decent fights.
Brash Brit Paul Daley will take on welterweight champ Nick Diaz in a bout that will likely be the culmination of four months of back and forth insults and bickering between the two. Diaz’s Team Cesar Gracie training partner Gilbert Melendez will attempt to defend his title for the second time when he battles former Shooto lightweight champ Tatsuya Kawajiri.
Also rumored to be on the card is a light heavyweight tilt between former Strikeforce light heavyweight champ Gegard Mousasi and the only man to *really* beat current champ Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante, Mike Kyle. It’s likely that the bout will decide who will have the next crack at Cavalcante or perhaps who will face former champ Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal on the Dallas card. Lawal, who has been rehabbing a surgery-requiring knee injury sustained in his loss to Feijao in August, announced last week that he will be fighting on the card.
Shinya Aoki will also make his Strikeforce return on the card to face DREAM featherweight champion Hiroyuki Takaya. In his last bout, Aoki suffered an embarrassing knockout loss to Yuichiro Nagashima at K-1 Dynamite! 2010, but because it was classified as an exhibition, the result is not reflected on his official record. Seeing the showboating Japanese fighter sprawled out on the canvas, though, trumps seeing a loss on his record any day. Takaya took Bibiano Fernandes to a unanimous decision at DREAM’s NYE show in his last outing to win the strap.
Even more exciting than the card itself will be Gus Johnson’s unveiling of Cover Girl’s new spring color collection.