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Josh Barnett's Licensing Issues Likely to Keep Grand Prix Out of California

DALLAS -- Just minutes after wrapping up the quarterfinals of the heavyweight Grand Prix, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker was already discussing plans for the semifinal round, which he said would take place some time early this fall.

As far as where the event will go down, that's a trickier question, but Coker added, "We're open to anything."

Anything, that is, except the state of California, where semifinal participant Josh Barnett is still not licensed.

"I guess that's a caveat," Coker said.

Barnett has not held a license in California since 2009, when he defeated Gilbert Yvel at Affliction: Day of Reckoning. Since his inability to get licensed for a fight with Fedor Emelianenko at Affliction: Trilogy in July of that same year, he has been embroiled in a series of unsuccessful attempts to get back in good standing with the California State Athletic Commission, but is currently still without a license in the state.

Coker doesn't expect that to change any time soon, he told MMA Fighting following Saturday night's Strikeforce event. In fact, the Strikeforce CEO doubts that the issue will be resolved before the tournament finals, which are tentatively slotted for February of 2012, he said.

"That's between Josh and the commission and I think Josh is willing to do that, and I think that will get done at some point," said Coker. "But I don't think it'll get done before this tournament's over. ...I don't think he will fix the issue with the commission by then. That's one of those things that will take time, so I don't think it will happen before the tournament is over. So we're going to go where we have to."

As far as what states are still in the running, Coker said that most other commissions Strikeforce has discussed a possible event with have expressed a willingness to allow Barnett to fight. It's just a matter of choosing between them, he added, and getting the next round scheduled, most likely in September or October of this year.

"Actually about two-thirds of the states we've talked to have welcomed us," Coker said. "So we have a lot of choices."