The tough talk started back June. But nothing came of it. That's when Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker began to suggest the promotion wasn't going to be pushed around anymore by its biggest heavyweight star, Fedor Emelianenko. Fedor would be matched up against Alistair Overeem, where his management liked it or not. It looks like Fedor still wears the pants in the family. He's not fighting in 2011. In fact, the matchmaking games spread to the entire Strikeforce heavyweight roster. It's impressive crew led by the champ Fabricio Werdum, Alistair Overeem, Fedor, Josh Barnett, Antonio Silva, Brett Rogers and Sergei Kharitonov, but they may all sidelined as far the promotion goes for the remainder of 2010. What gives? Coker again said, he's putting his foot down.
"... all those guys are all going to fight each other in 2011,” Coker told Sherdog's Beatdown Radio. "We’re not going to hold anything back. You’re going to see these guys fight the toughest guys because really, if you’re a heavyweight, there are no easy fights in Strikeforce."
Yet there are two fall cards and none of these elite big men are squaring off. The most glaring absence is Overeem. The Dutch muscleman had a tremendous amount of U.S. momentum on his side after smashing Rogers back in May and we haven't seen him since. That's unless you're an HDNet devotee and you love kickboxing. Overeem blocked out his entire fall calendar to take part in K-1's Final 16.
"It’s very clear in our agreement with Alistair that we have booking priority," Coker said of allowing Overeem to fight in K-1. "So we could have easily said no, but then is it really fair to him? It’s a personal goal of his. Let him go try to be the best standup fighter in the world. … we’re going to support him and we’re going to wish him well and hopefully he can win the whole tournament. Then he can come back the Strikeforce champion and the K-1 heavyweight champion. As far as accomplishments, I’ve never seen that done before."
That sounds great for the future of Strikeforce.The promotion must be very healthy if its in a position to allow its heavyweight champ to disappear from Showtime for nine-plus months. Overeem isn't the only big omission. Where is Fedor?
"He’s not going to be back this year because the schedule is already full." said Coker.
Really? It's full? Strikeforce has two solid cards to close the year but they're far from full.
Maybe we're all being impatient but it seems like Strikeforce is whiffing on an opportunity to show off what has turned into an intriguing heavyweight division. You take a look at the top five big men for both the UFC and Strikeforce and there's certainly a legitimate argument which promotion has the best.
Strikeforce - UFC (rankings according to USA Today/Bloody Elbow)
1. Fedor - Brock Lesnar
2. Werdum - Cain Velasquez
3. Overeem - Shane Carwin
4. Silva - Junior Dos Santos
5. Barnett - Frank Mir