Strikeforce Shifts Gears: Overeem’s Belt Safe, Tourney Fights Three Rounds

January 13, 2011
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Strikeforce, on a media conference call on Thursday, formalized plans for its eight-man Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament.

Company CEO Scott Coker, in an initial interview with MMAWeekly.com last week, had hoped to make all bouts in the tournament five five-minute rounds with heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem’s belt at risk throughout the tournament.

Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker

Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker

“The goal is to have Alistair put up his belt against Fabricio Werdum. If Werdum wins, then he will have to put up the belt, but at the end, you will have one champion,” Coker said.

That was the goal, but Coker also said that they had to make sure that their plans worked in conjunction with the state athletic commissions that will oversee the multi-event tournament. The various rounds of the tournament will be split amongst separate events in various locations.

Of chief concern to Strikeforce was the number of rounds for each of the bouts if the title were at risk through the tournament.

“We’re working with the athletic commissions because of the round issue,” Coker told MMAWeekly.com. Most commissions deem title fights five-round bouts; non-title fights are typically three rounds.

That proved to be the point where Strikeforce shifted gears and decided not to put Overeem’s title on the line in the Grand Prix.

“We just didn’t feel like it would be fair for one fight to be three rounds, one fight to be five rounds,” Coker said on Thursday.

He pointed out that, over the course of the tournament, Strikeforce could end up working with as many as six different commissions.

“We would have to have all those commissions on the same page and we just couldn’t do it,” he added.

So the tournament is set to be three five-minute rounds per fight up until the final bout, which will be a five-round championship fight.

If any fight is ruled a draw, there will be a fourth judge that will determine which fighter should continue on in the tournament. As well, if a fighter cannot continue on in the tournament due to injury or other circumstances, a five-person Strikeforce committee, headed up by Strikeforce rules director Cory Schafer, will determine a replacement from reserve bout winners and eliminated tournament fighters.

The winner of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix will be the tournament champion and challenge Overeem for the Strikeforce heavyweight title. If Overeem makes it through the tournament, then his belt will be on the line in final with the winner declared both the Strikeforce heavyweight champion and Grand Prix tournament champion.

  • MMAProfessor

    Now this news makes much more sense. Having the title on the line throughout the tournament made no sense, but it would be entertaining.

    I think Strikeforce needs to make more logical decisions to stay afloat. I love the entire tournament idea and think it will be a huge success. but lets not start going over the top with tournaments and doing things outside the box on a daily basis.

    Strikeforce just needs to stick with their formula and start marketing better. they have the roster to step it up a notch!

  • The_Power

    Ahhh…..ok….it sounds good.

  • ShockednAwed

    Surprise, surprise… change number one, and only a matter of days after the initial announcement.

    Anyone expecting this to play out as-planned is a sucker.

  • Georgia S.W.A.T

    Can somebody tell me when strikeforce had anyone put there title on the line ? seems like never

  • MrAdidas

    Well @ least this makes more sense, & like he said – for one or two groups of fighters to fight 3 rounds, while others have to fight 5 rounds is total BS & unfair. Too bad this tourna is going to last so long, I think they should of had the title fight in the summer & not in October, 8 months is too long for only 8 fighters, IMO.

    Though I’m not sure about this 4th judge deciding who wins/advances, too bad they couldnt do another round – even if it were just 3 mins! I’d rather see added time to give the fighters one last chance to win the fight, rather than leave it in the hands of a judge….. a 4th one at that.

    As for a fighter getting injured, y not replace him with one of the fighters who was eliminated & who deserved to make it to the next round by performance, especially if there was a very close fight & it went to decision etc.

    BTW – Fedor, you are soooo FULL OF SHIT, to say this group of 8 fighters is jsut as good as the group of fighters who fought in the last Grand Prix HW tournament is laughable at best. If I’m not mistaken, Cro Cop, Fedor, Nogueira, Coleman, Bustamante, Nakamura, Randleman, Aleksander Emelianenko, Wanderlei Silva, Kondo etc. Those guys were in their prime Vs the guys of 2011 Grand Prix….. not even close, come on!!!