According to early reports yesterday and now an official press release, the second leg of the Strikeforce heavyweight tournament has been pushed back to June 18th. The second set of quarterfinal tournament fights will take place at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. The two remaining quarterfinal fights are Fabricio Werdum vs. Alistair Overeem and Josh Barnett vs. Brett Rogers. ESPN's Josh Gross reports Gina Carano may also appear on that card.
Strikeforce President Scott Coker offered this assessment of the delay: "To build on the tremendous momentum from New Jersey we needed the proper time to promote an event of this magnitude, which is why we have decided to continue the Tournament on June 18 at American Airlines Center in Dallas, a venue that has been identified as one of the premier sports and entertainment venues in the U.S."
Gross, however, was able to get more from Coker:
"We just ran out of time," Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker said Tuesday, referring to the second leg of its Heavyeight Tournament quarterfinal round. "I didn't find a venue that we thought would work for everybody, so we decided to move it."
"We're in a situation now where we have a good three-and-a-half to four months to promote the fight and do a great job of having a shot of driving the rating and driving attendance," Coker said.
The date change, which was first reported as a possibility by Sherdog.com on Feb. 21, pushes the tournament semifinals back to mid-September, with the finals penciled in for early December, Coker said.
"I would like to conclude it by the end of the year," said Coker, who was in the hospital after falling ill last week. "... I feel bad for the fighters but as a promoter I'm happy we have more time. I think with those heavyweights and the proper amount of time, we're really going to have our best shot of recreating the success we had in New Jersey."
Now they'll be a new Strikeforce event in April Valley View Casino Center in San Diego, California, formerly the San Diego Sports Arena. That will feature two title fights, the first and headliner will be Nick Diaz defending his Strikeforce welterweight title against Brit Paul Daley. Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilber Melendez will put his title on the line in a rematch against Tatsuya Kawajiri. Japanese grappler Shinya Aoki could also appear on this card.
The news of the delay sounded worse than the delay appears to be, although at the moment you readjust timelines you open yourself to allowing further delays throughout the course of tournament. The ice is already broken, so to speak. However, if they can carry out these fights on the stated timeline and provide these two title fights in the process, there's little to complain about.
Putting Carano on the June card is preferable as well. Her major Steven Soderbergh movie "Haywire" comes out in April. Given the media she'll have to do to promote this, it's better to give her time to prep for her return. Putting her on the June card will also be better for Strikeforce to take advantage of her recaptured fame. Arguments that fans have lost interest in Carano, for whatever reason, don't take into account that by the time she fights she'll have been heavily promoted in a major Hollywood motion picture. That will do wonders to create interest.
The April card is also coming together nicely. The Gegard Mousasi vs. Mike Kyle fight is nothing to write home about, but the two title fights are. And it's a nice little consolation prize while we wait for the next leg of the tournament to kick off. These aren't ideal circumstances, of course, but all of this will serve to keep Strikeforce in the headlines in a way where most of the talk is centered on future events. That's not an unappealing outcome.