I never thought I’d ever speak out against a grand prix tournament, but because the proposed Strikeforce heavyweight tournament has so many question marks surrounding it, I’m almost hoping it doesn’t happen.
When Scott Coker mentioned earlier this year that Strikeforce was either going to piss or get off the pot when teasing its fans with heavyweight fights that never seem to come to fruition because of those crazy Russians for whatever reason, I thought he meant it.
What Sco-Co should have said was, “We’ll likely milk the current roster for whatever we can and if we can make the fights fans want to see, then we will, but we likely won’t.”
According to Tatame, the California-based promotion is planning on stretching the tournament over three events and will likely anchor Strikeforce’s foray into pay-per-view TV — a move necessitated by the fact that it’s unlikely that CBS will be having them back on network TV in 2011 and the costs of greasing the pockets of M-1 Global for each Fedor-featured event are likely more than most Russians make in their lives.
To say that the mismatched opening round of the SF GP is underwhelming would be a major understatement.
The rumored Fedor versus Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva match-up is apparently still a go for February while Fabricio Werdum versus Sergei Kharitonov, Josh Barnett versus Brett Rogers and Alistair Overeem versus Andrei Arlovski are being worked on for March.
I admit that I was initially excited about the prospect of the grand prix, but then I thought about everything that could and likely will go wrong and now I’m not so sure it’s a good idea.
Here are the “unknowns” which may make this whole thing blow up in their faces.
The Prize: If Overeem is the champ and he will be competing in the tournament, will he be putting up the belt, and if so, what’s in it for him?
Overeem: The Strikeforce heavyweight champ only fought for the promotion once last year, defeating Brett Rogers by first round TKO in his first title defense since winning the belt in 2007. Recognizing that we may not see him defend the belt while Obama is still in office, it looks like Strikeforce decided to make the best of “The Reem’s” remaining few contracted fights to ensure he doesn’t leave for the UFC with the belt.
Werdum: Given that his stock is currently higher than any other fighter on thier roster thanks to his surprise win over Fedor earlier this year, you would think that Strikeforce wouldn’t want to risk having him KO’d in the first fight back from elbow surgery. Kharitonov made Golden Glory teammate Overeem count sheep three years ago in the SF champ’s last loss under the K-1 Hero’s banner.
Fedor: “The Last Emperor” still hasn’t committed to Strikeforce, so planning a tournament around him doesn’t seem like a great idea, especially when M-1 may hold their PPV profits ransom.
Barnett: Where there’s drug testing, there’s always a question mark surrounding Josh Barnett, who is still hasn’t gotten his license in California reinstated since he single-handedly took down Affliction. When it comes to North American commissions, they tend to stand together and uphold any suspensions levied by one of their Associations of Boxing Commission brethren, so unless they’re planning on having him fight in Europe, they might be S.O.L. putting Barnett in the GP.
Arlovski: Although I wouldn’t say that “The Pitbull” has lost his bite, his jaw seems a bit more spongy than it used to thanks to KO’s by Rogers and Fedor. An uninspired loss to Silva made me wonder if we’re ever going to watch another Arlovski fight and not say, “Poor Andrei,” or, “Holy shit. Is he dead?”