With Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem having been surprisingly and abruptly cut from the promotion this week and all of promotion’s rightful contenders already being obligated to the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, how Strikeforce plans to crown the next champ is currently unclear.
Winning the vacant Strikeforce title back in 2007 with a win over Paul Buentello, Overeem has defended the title once, against Brett Rogers. Splitting his time fighting for other promotions around the world as well as making a few forays into K-1 kickboxing (winning a world title there, too), The Demolition Man was mostly an absentee champion.
The odds-on favorite to win the Strikeforce GP, Overeem advanced to the semi-finals round by defeating Fabricio Werdum in a convincing, but lackluster fight. The Reem would meet Antonio Silva in the semis, but was forced to pull out of the tournament when it became clear that injuries would prevent him from preparing fully by the new September fight date.
Shortly after pulling out of the tournament, Overeem was released by Strikeforce and no reason as to why has yet been given. At last night’s Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson post-fight press conference, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker was asked by MMAJunkie.com whether or not the winner of the Grand Prix could be crowned the new heavyweight champ.
“Yeah, certainly,” Coker replied. “What we’re going to do is circle back in the offices next week, and then hopefully we’ll have an announcement as to how the next champion will be crowned.”
The next round of the Strikeforce Heavyweight GP is expected to go down on September 10 at Strikeforce 36, which will take place at the US Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio and will feature semi-final bouts between Antonio Silva and tournament alternate Daniel Cormier, as well as Sergei Kharitonov and new tournament favorite Josh Barnett.