This Saturday marks six weeks until April 9, a date that was checked off as a place-holder for the second set of quarterfinals of the Strikeforce World Grand Prix. It is a date that Strikeforce added to its official website, Showtime advertised on television, and Scott Coker confirmed to the media. It is significant since most top fighters request a minimum of six weeks for a solid training camp.
But with time quickly ticking away, it seems less and less likely that the expected tournament fights will take place.
Over the last few days, MMA Fighting has spoken with several sources that indicate while a final decision has yet to be made, evidence is pointing to a delay in the quarterfinal fights pitting Fabricio Werdum
vs. Alistair Overeem
and Brett Rogers
vs. Josh Barnett
Here's what we do know:
• A Showtime source told MMA Fighting that the premium cable network is "preparing as planned" for an event on April 9
• A Strikeforce source told MMA Fighting that the company has nothing yet it can officially announce
• The camps of two of the four heavyweight fighters expected to fight in the quarterfinal round told MMA Fighting they haven't gotten confirmation that their April 9 fights will take place
• A source with knowledge of the situation confirmed to MMA Fighting that lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez has been told he may be called upon to fight on April 9
While a recent Sherdog story
reported that Strikeforce would run its April 9 event in California, state athletic commission executive officer George Dodd told MMA Fighting that the promotion has not yet requested the date for an event. However, that only amounts to a minor issue, as according to Dodd, the commission ideally asks for between 3-4 weeks of lead time to sanction an event. Since then, MMA Fighting has learned that Oakland's Oracle Arena has been targeted as a possible host venue. While San Jose's HP Pavilion would be a more logical choice given its corporate ties to the promotion -- both the arena and Strikeforce are owned by the same entertainment group -- the arena is unavailable on the 9th due to a San Jose Sharks NHL hockey game.
If the event does take place in California, it is virtually assured that the expected Grand Prix fights will not be on the card. As has been reported in the past, tournament fighter Barnett remains unlicensed in California, and Dodd told MMA Fighting on Thursday night that the next commission meeting wouldn't take place until April 18, making Barnett's participation an impossibility.
Adding to the intrigue, Sherdog reported in its original story regarding the event that Nick Diaz has been asked to begin preparations for a possible fight on April 9 -- something later confirmed by his manager Cesar Gracie -- and MMA Weekly reported
on Thursday that a light-heavyweight fight pitting Gegard Mousasi against Roger Gracie is being targeted as well. That is a total of five possible major fights for an event that given Strikeforce's usual model, only needs four.
Meanwhile, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker has been ill recently, forcing him to miss a pair of scheduled conference calls in which he might have addressed the rapidly approaching date. Coker did not reply to messages left by MMA Fighting.
A source with knowledge of the situation said that Strikeforce is expected to make an April 9 date official by early next week, but given the dwindling lead time and increasing probability of a California show, it's not likely to feature the Grand Prix fights fans were expecting.