While the date of Fedor Emelianenko‘s return is still uncertain, Strikeforce is moving ahead with plans for a monster CBS card in Nashville on April 17th, which is expected to feature three title fights. Along with the headlining middleweight title scrap between Dan Henderson and Jake Shields, MMA Weekly has reported that Gegard Mousasi will defend his light-heavyweight belt against top contender Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal. Mousasi, who is riding a 15-fight win streak, hasn’t officially defended his Strikeforce strap since winning it from Renato Sobral last August, but has scored wins over Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou (in a Strikeforce non-title fight) and Gary Goodridge (in a Dynamite!! 2009 squash match) since then. King Mo is 6-0 in his relatively short MMA career, and wrecked Mike Whitehead at his Strikeforce debut in December, but is facing a massive leap in competition against the Young Vagabond.
Also on the Shields vs. Henderson card, a lightweight title fight between Strikeforce champ Gilbert Melendez and DREAM champ Shinya Aoki has been booked, according to Sherdog; Aoki’s title will not be on the line. Melendez recently regained the Strikeforce belt in a rematch against Josh Thomson. Aoki became DREAM’s lightweight champ by submitting Joachim Hansen last October, then followed up that performance by breaking Mizuto Hirota‘s arm.
Meanwhile, in the heavyweight division…
Alistair Overeem has confirmed that he’s likely to face Brett Rogers in a non-title fight slated for a May 15th Strikeforce event in St. Louis. Though Overeem is still the official heavyweight champion of Strikeforce, he hasn’t defended his title since winning it in November 2007. Overeem also said that an appearance at DREAM 13 on March 22nd is a possibility. For the record, Fedor Emelianenko’s management — who previously stated that they wouldn’t take a fight against Overeem unless he was drug tested leading up to the fight — now says they have no interest in a fight against Overeem whatsoever. "I personally think that Alistair Overeem did not reach the desired level to challenge Fedor," Vadim Finkelchtein told sports.ru. "He beat a lot of no-name opponents in Mixed Martial Arts…He has nothing to offer for Fedor Emelianenko."
Also on the May 15th card, Andrei Arlovski is expected to face Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva. Arlovski announced yesterday that he had signed a multi-fight, 16-month contract with Strikeforce; he plans to spend part of his training camp at Greg Jackson’s MMA Academy in Albuquerque. Arlovski hasn’t competed in MMA since his 22-second knockout loss to Brett Rogers last June, but participated in a four-round charity boxing exhibition against Fres Oquendo last Saturday.