Thursday, January 27, 2011
Strikeforce sets April date for Grand Prix
By Josh Gross ESPN.com
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The second quarterfinal leg of Strikeforce's World Grand Prix: Heavyweight Tournament will take place April 9 at a to-be-determined location.
Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker confirmed the date to ESPN.com Thursday afternoon following the final news conference for a Jan. 29 Showtime-televised card at the HP Pavilion featuring the promotion's welterweight and middleweight titles.
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While venues in the U.S., Canada and Brazil remain in play for a card featuring Alistair Overeem against Fabricio Werdum, Josh Barnett versus Brett Rogers, and, Coker confirmed, the return of Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez, Japan appears to be the front runner.
Sotaro Shinoda, a representative for Real Entertainment, the Japanese company that co-produced Pride events before partnering with FEG to form Dream in 2008, is expected to meet with Coker Thursday evening to discuss details about bringing the Showtime-televised card to Tokyo.
Strikeforce and Dream have partnered several times in fighter exchanges. The April card would mark Strikeforce's first event in Japan -- a goal of Coker's since he entered the mixed martial arts business in 2006. Producing a live broadcast to the U.S. at 10 p.m. ET Saturday, would require a start time in Japan on April 10 at noon.
Coker ruled out famed Saitama Super Arena, host to many Pride and Dream events, as the location.
The eight-fighter tournament commences Feb. 12 in East Rutherford, N.J., when Fedor Emelianenko fights Antonio Silva, and Sergei Kharitonov faces Andrei Arlovski.
Josh Gross covers MMA for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter at JoshGrossESPN.