Alistair Overeem hasn’t defended his Strikeforce heavyweight title once since winning it on November 16, 2007 against Paul Buentello. And judging by today’s news, it doesn’t look like he’s going to defend it before the year’s out either.
FEG announced the field for their K-1 World GP 2009 Final 16 event scheduled for Sept. 26 in Seoul, Korea earlier today, and Overeem is on the list. He’ll be taking on Peter Aerts, and if he wins, he’ll be fighting in the finals in December likely ending any possibility of him fighting for Strikeforce in 2009.
Meanwhile, the number one heavyweight in the world Fedor Emelianenko will be making his Strikeforce debut sometime in the fall against Brett Rogers. Since Overeem’s belt has been stuck on shelf gathering dust for so long, should Strikeforce make Fedor vs Rogers a title fight? Fanhouse’s MDS makes the case.
So what becomes of the Strikeforce heavyweight title? I think they ought to award it to the winner of the Fedor Emelianenko vs. Brett Rogers fight that Strikeforce is co-promoting with M-1 Global this fall. That’s certainly a fight worthy of having a belt on the line, and it would allow Strikeforce to say that someone who actually fights in the Strikeforce cage is their heavyweight champ. I think Overeem is one of the most talented fighters in the world, and I enjoy watching him in both MMA and kickboxing. But a successful promotion simply can’t have a heavyweight champion who never defends his belt, and that’s what Strikeforce has right now.
MDS makes a good point. If Overeem is off doing other things, shouldn’t someone be fighting for Strikeforce’s heavyweight title, especially when one of the candidates is Fedor Emelianenko? I think there’s definitely a valid argument there, but let’s not forget that while Overeem hasn’t fought for Strikeforce in nearly two years, he didn’t have any credible challengers until earlier this year when Strikeforce closed the EliteXC deal. Plus, he was scheduled to fight twice earlier this summer but pulled out both times because of a hand injury. So looking at it from that perspective, would it really be fair to strip him of his title now? Eh, probably not, and Strikeforce isn’t going to do it anyways.
What they can do though is create an interim title for the Fedor-Rogers fight. I like interim belts about as much as the next guy, but if Fedor-Overeem lands on CBS, it could help them with their marketing, plus let’s face it, putting Fedor in a heavyweight non-title fight at this point in his career is just retarded. The additional rounds aren’t going to matter — this fight probably won’t go a full round, let alone five — but at least Strikeforce will have their heavyweight championship back in play. Really, what can it hurt?