Through a joint press release with partners M-1 Global and Showtime, the Strikeforce promotion officially announced their much-anticipated Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament yesterday. The eight-man event is set to tee off with the first quarterfinal bout pitting “The Last Emperor” Fedor Emelianenko against the fighter known as “Bigfoot,” Antonio Silva. The matchup, slated to take place in Newark, New Jersey’s IZOD Center on February 12th, will be televised LIVE on the Showtime Network. Another quarterfinal bout pitting a resurgent Andrei Arlovski against Russian fighter Sergei Kharitanov will serve as the co-headliner for the card.
In addition the headlining bouts, Shane Del Rosario versus Lavar Johnson will also take place at the February event in a matchup that will serve to determine the number one alternate for the heavyweight tournament.
Two more quarterfinal bouts featuring Alistair Overeem vs Fabricio Werdum and Brett Rogers vs Josh Barnett are expected to take place on Strikeforce’s April show to conclude the first round of the Grand Prix. Another rumored matchup includes the Demolition Man’s brother, Valentijn Overeem, taking on former K1 fighter Ray Sefo in another alternate bout while some other heavyweights, including Daniel Cormier remain in the mix.
Some Interesting Things to Consider with this Strikeforce Grand Prix Announcement:
Fedor Emelianenko’s participation in this Grand Prix is part of new multi-year agreement between Strikeforce and M-1 Global to co-promote fights. This new contract includes four fights for the Last Emperor. Will fans finally see much anticipated matchups between the Russian conqueror and highly-touted would-be opponents in Josh Barnett and Alistair Overeem? Or will fans perhaps see a rematch between Emelianenko and the only man to submit him in Fabricio Werdum? There will be answers to at least some of that depending on which way this tournament unfolds.
Alistair Overeem’s title will be on the line starting with his quarterfinal bout against the aforementioned “Vai Cavalo” Fabricio Werdum. This means that whoever wins the Heavyweight Grand Prix will have to do so in a five-round title fight and will be coming out of the tournament as Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion! Not a bad way to bring legitimacy back to a title laid largely dormant in the past few years with scant defenses from the champion, Overeem!
Check out this fan-made Preview of the Grand Prix!