It’s not looking good for the Stikeforce heavyweight grand prix on April 9. No one knows for sure still if the second half of quarterfinal bouts will still happen on that date, but MMA Fighting’s Mike Chiappetta is hearing the card could end up at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California where grand prix participant Josh Barnett isn’t licensed to fight.
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
- 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.
To make matters worse, Scott Coker has been ill for the past week and unable to comment on the reports, allowing an unhealthy dose of uncertainty and speculation to spread throughout the MMA community.
To me, the solution is very simple. Replace Josh Barnett with Shane Del Rosario or one of the other GP alternates and run the second half in California on the previously set April 9 date. I mean these types of situations are what the alternates are for, right? It’s not ideal, but allowing Barnett’s licensing issues to kill all the momentum and good will they built up would be a huge mistake considering the high stakes situation they put themselves in with this tournament. If it was Alistair Overeem causing all the problems, I might say different, but Josh Barnett, despite his name value, is expendable.
If the April 9 card does move forward without the heavyweights, the card may consist of Nick Diaz, Gilbert Melendez and a possible light heavyweight bout between Gegard Mousasi and Roger Gracie or Mike Kyle.
Update: Josh Gross has confirmed that Strikeforce has a scheduled a June 18 card at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. He doesn’t know if the GP QF’s will happen on this card, but says Texas will license Barnett.