Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker was straight to the point Tuesday during a media call for September 10’s Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Kharitonov event when asked if the winner of the tournament would be crowned the new heavyweight champion.
“Actually, the tournament winner will not be awarded the heavyweight title,” Coker said. “We’re currently working in some discussions. It just hasn’t been determined. We’re still working out the process of the plans for the belt. Right now it has not been determined.”
Alistair Overeem was released from his contract with Strikeforce earlier this month, putting a question mark around the championship belt. Many thought the obvious answer would be to give the title to the winner of the grand prix, but that will not happen now.
Josh Barnett, who fights Sergei Kharitonov in one of the semifinals, was fine with that exact thing happening, though.
“Honestly, yeah I would love it if the finals of this tournament were for the heavyweight title right now,” Barnett said. “I think that’s great, that would add an exclamation mark at the end of it. But that doesn’t change my attitude of getting the job done.”
Along with the Barnett-Kharitonov fight, Antonio Silva and Daniel Cormier – who replaced Overeem – will meet, with the winners facing off in early 2012.
Coker also said during the press conference that the Strikeforce light heavyweight title remains on the waist of Dan Henderson as Henderson continues to negotiate a new contract. It has been rumored that “Hendo” may return to the UFC, leaving Strikeforce with two vacant titles.
Nick Diaz surrendered the welterweight title earlier this year in preparation for a fight with UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre later this year.
The only current Strikeforce champions are Gilbert Melendez in lightweight, middleweight champ Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and women’s champions Miesha Tate and Cris “Cyborg” Santos. Santos just recently resigned with the company.