Cloud of Mystery Descends Over Strikeforce Heavyweight Tournament

Strikeforce has gotten off to a great start in 2011. They've run two events: Diaz vs Cyborg and Fedor vs Silva. Both of those events did excellent ratings on Showtime. More importantly the Heavyweight Grand Prix got off to a banner start and has compelled the imaginations of fans.

Then Sherdog reported that the April 9th event would NOT include Alistair Overeem vs Fabricio Werdum or Josh Barnett vs Brett Rogers -- the second installment of the tournament's opening round. 

Since then nothing has been clear. Strikeforce has not commented on the news and Strikeforce boss Scott Coker has been too ill to field questions from the press.

Dave Meltzer speculates on what it might mean (subscription required):

Greg Savage at Sherdog.com reported that the Josh Barnett vs. Brett Rogers and Alistair Overeem vs. Fabricio Werdum show has been moved back. The report stated there would be a 4/9 show on Showtime that would take place in California. With Barnett not licensed in California, that would move the Grand Prix back. Gilbert Melendez vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri for the lightweight title and Nick Diaz defending the welterweight title (presumably against Paul Daley as long as he beats Yuya Shirai on 2/26 in Manchester, England, if not maybe Tyron Woodley) are under consideration. All of these are moving pieces since Daley would only have six weeks between fights so there's no guarantee he's taking the fight under those circumstances. Scott Coker has yet to say anything regarding this change. Currently, Strikeforce has not informed the California State Athletic Commission of a tentative date or place for 4/9, and the HP Pavilion has a Sharks game that night so it would be impossible to hold it there.

It also may be that CBS is back interested in a show after the ratings Showtime pulled, and at that point you have to take a date CBS wants. Keep in mind that is pure speculation and not even speculation based on anything anyone has hinted to me. Right now there are just unanswered questions.

If it is delayed past April and they don't get on CBS, it is unlikely the next round would take place until June. Showtime has a boxing PPV on 5/7 with Manny Pacquiao vs. Shane Mosley and I doubt they or CBS would put anything against that given how high a priority getting Pacquiao was. They also have Andre Ward fighting on 5/14 and Carl Froch on 5/21, while 5/28 is a fairly big UFC show.

Zach Arnold takes Strikeforce to the woodshed:

When the promotion decided to book a year-long ‘tournament' as the main theme for 2011, they had to realize that everything needed to set up for the year. That means the arena bookings, the matches, and everything logistical. Even PRIDE, of all organizations, had a slate of dates booked for Saitama Super Arena or buildings like Yokohama Arena. (They had to, since most buildings in Japan require a 4-6 month advance booking date, if not longer.) The fact that Strikeforce still doesn't reportedly have a venue booked for April 9th for the rest of the first round is absurd. The idea that Sherdog's report on this has not been disputed yet by the promotion is curious. All of this chaos is also completely unfair to fighters who have training camps and are trying to peak at the right time. How would you like to be Alistair Overeem right now? You thought you were going to become the ‘ace' of K-1, you won all your fights last December at Ariake Colosseum, and then you end up claiming that they didn't pay you? He had big plans for Japan, so much so that he signed with talent agency Yoshimoto. Now, he fully commits to Strikeforce, and what happens? He's like the rest of us in not knowing what is going on - and he's supposed to fight a major opponent in Fabricio Werdum!

All of this chaos started with the dumb notion of wanting to run events in Japan. Yes, I predicted that the promotion would try to run there, but I never thought it made any financial sense. With all the chaos going on there now, why make things harder for yourself? Seemingly, that seems to be the theme of this operation right now. Once the landscape in Japan fell apart, the promotion should have already had everything ready to go to promote an event on April 9th. After all, that's the date the promotion pushed on Showtime for the next event. You have all those eyeballs watching Fedor's fight and you tell fans that a certain date will be used for the rest of the first round and now you are hedging on that. Why? None of this uncertainly should have happened in the first place.

Showtime has a Strikeforce event scheduled for April 9th and it will happen. Strikeforce could rent a barge tow it into international waters and as long as Showtime's production crew can set up, the event will happen.

It's also important to remember that this event is more than forty sixty days out. It's not unheard of to not have a venue announced that far out.

What is problematic is Strikeforce's poor media response. When there is fear, uncertainty and doubt about your product in the media, it's critical to get out there and tell your story.  Strikeforce's silence in the face of these reports is the worst possible response. 

Strikeforce in April coverage

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