Strikeforce has just released the bracket for their clusterfuctacular heavyweight tournament, which should clear up some of the conflicting reports about who’s fighting who. What it doesn’t specify is when these fights are taking place. We know that Emelianenko vs. Silva and Arlovski vs. Kharitonov are both happening February 12th in New Jersey. Overeem/Werdum and Barnett/Rogers are tentatively slated to go down in April, exact date and location TBA. And the semi-finals and finals? Your guess is as good as ours, bro. With a little bit of luck, this entire dirty business will be settled by the time President Trump takes office.
(Personally, I think that getting all these guys together for a single-night tournament is the only way you can insure that the semi-finals and finals will actually take place, but we’re trying to stay positive here. For what it’s worth, Scott Coker is adamant that Josh Barnett‘s licensing issues will not bar him from competing in the GP.)
Adding a new wrinkle to the tournament setup is a new ESPN report which informs us that the belt will be on the line through the entire tournament. Meaning that the quarterfinal bout between reigning champ Alistair Overeem and Fabricio Werdum will be a five-round title fight; in the semi-finals, the Overeem/Werdum winner will face the Emelianenko/Bigfoot winner in a five-round title fight; and the final match of the tournament will also be (you guessed it) a five-round title fight. So theoretically, the belt could change hands from Overeem to Werdum to Fedor to, you know, Brett Rogers or whoever, though in all likelihood the fighter who makes it through the right side of that bracket is going to get his ass dug out in the finals.
That’s probably the smartest way to do it, considering that an official title fight between Overeem vs. Werdum is the only fight in this tournament that actually needs to happen. Of course, if Strikeforce’s HWGP can give us at least one more long-awaited matchup — Overeem vs. Fedor? Fedor vs. Barnett? — it would be an unqualified success. Good luck, guys.
Related: Strikeforce’s Feb. 12 show at the IZOD Center will also host a heavyweight tournament reserve bout between Shane Del Rosario (10-0, nine wins by first-round stoppage, 2-0 in Strikeforce) and Lavar Johnson (15-3, 13 wins by first-round stoppage, 3-0 in Strikeforce).