Luke Thomas of SBNation.com/MMA had a chance to catch up with Strikeforce president Scott Coker and discuss the heavyweight tournament. The interview is lengthy and filled with interesting nuggets and I fully suggest you head over to SBN/MMA to check it out. But here are some of the juicy bits:
Luke Thomas: What's the biggest fight Strikeforce can make? Is it Fedor vs. Overeem? Or is it the tournament final?
Scott Coker: The reason we make the brackets the way we did is because the fans get to see the fights they want to see and - not that they'll be guaranteed - but there's a much higher percentage that they would happen. Look at the NFL playoffs. A week ago, I thought the Patriots and the Falcons would be in the Super Bowl, right? Now, they're completely out. In my years of doing the K1 fights, one thing I've learned is that the guys who you think will be there in the end - very rarely do you get the match up you were hoping for. This way, Fedor should win. He's going to have a great matchup between either Alistair or Werdum and that's something we wanted to give to the fans. Nomatter how you cut this, you're going to see great fights. Alistair fighting Fabricio is something Alistair wanted. Fabricio beat him three or four years ago and when I saw Alistair in Japan he said, 'I wanna fight Fabricio and I want to fight him first.' So Fabricio said, 'let's get it on.' He said he's going to choke Alistair out. Let's see what happens.
Luke Thomas: In your mind, and in some of the fans' minds, I think this is the best time for the Strikeforce heavyweight division to assert itself. If there was a better time I didn't know when it was. I think now is the moment. Make the case that the winner of this tournament, all things being equal, if there aren't any eye gouge issues, if there aren't any fourth judge issues, if this just goes forward mostly normal, with most of the same characters involved - make the case that the winner is the No. 1 heavyweight fighter in mixed martial arts.
Scott Coker: It's funny because I'm sitting down with Crazy Bob at a restaurant last week and we're having this debate about Cain fighting Fedor, Cain fighting , Cain fighting Fabricio Werdum or Barnett and, as much as we debated, I think I had a good come back for every part of it and I think that those guys I mentioned would give Cain a hard time. he's an amazing fighter, but so are these guys. Just because you put the label on him, he's a UFC champion, believe me, Overeem is a beast. Until you've been hit by that knee strike or Josh Barnett - who I believe has a really amazing complete game - or Fedor who has surprised us over and over. Fedor got caught by Werdum but to have that kind of record over all those years fighting in mixed martial arts? It just doesn't happen. For our next heavyweight tournament, we'll make sure to leave a lot open for their champion.