Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem will not only be a participant in the upcoming Strikeforce Grand Prix, but that will be his only commitment until the tournament is over.
According to Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker after the promotion allowed Overeem to step away from MMA for the majority of 2010 to pursue his dream to win the K-1 Grand Prix, in 2011 the Dutch destroyer is focused only on one thing.
Winning the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix.
“He will be committed to this tournament,” Coker said on Thursday. “In fact, last year he filmed that documentary “The Reem”, basically it was the life and times of Alistair Overeem leading to his K-1 Grand Prix final victory, and they’re going to start shooting the road to the Strikeforce Grand Prix Heavyweight title. They’re committed to this fight.”
Overeem has only defended the Strikeforce title he won in 2007 one time, a drubbing of Brett Rogers in May 2010. For the remainder of the year, Overeem was focused on his kickboxing career, which paid off as he closed out 2010 by winning the K-1 Grand Prix tournament.
Now that time has passed, and Coker says they’re on the same page with Overeem to make sure Strikeforce is his commitment this year.
“Last year, just to be very clear, we have a contract with Alistair, and he came to us and his manager is a very close friend and he said ‘look we want to fight in the K-1, it’s important to Alistair’ and so it happened and we were supporting of it, but this year it’s very clear that they need to support Strikeforce, and the participation in the tournament is going to require up to three fights and they committed,” Coker stated.
In the past few years, Overeem has split time between MMA and kickboxing, but at least for the duration of this tournament, which will likely last at least through ¾ of 2011, the champion will only be fighting in Strikeforce.
“There’s no way that’s going to happen,” Coker said responding to Overeem potentially fighting elsewhere during the tournament timeframe. “This tournament’s going to be taxing on these guys and there’s a lot on the line.”
Coker also pointed to the significance of bringing Overeem along with Fedor Emelianenko and others together for this history 8-man tournament. Not since the days of Pride has a heavyweight tournament been assembled, and they are proud to be the first ones to do it.
“To put these 8 guys together it’s a very special moment in time,” Coker said. “These guys are still in their prime and they all have their own history getting to this tournament, but this tournament will clearly state who the best heavyweight fighter in the world is.”
The tournament kicks off on Feb 12 with two first round match-ups, and Overeem is expected to face Fabricio Werdum in his first bout for the Grand Prix in early April.