SPECIAL PREVIEW OF TONIGHT'S STRIKEFORCE EVENT ON SHOWTIME!
In the world of Mixed Martial Arts, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker is a most unique individual. Actually, that can be said about Coker in the entire world of sports. A soft-spoken promoter who lets the action do the talking for him, Coker has an opportunity to steer his promotion back on track after a disastrous melee at the end of his last show, which took place on the ultra-conservative and leery-of-MMA CBS broadcast network.
The melee occurred when Jake Shields upset Dan Henderson in the main event, and Jason "Mayhem" Miller came into the cage asking about a rematch. Within moments, a wild brawl broke out, with most of the fighting being done by the people in Shields' corner, The Diaz Brothers. Nick, who has been accused of throwing the first punch, is a lightning rod for controversy.
And now, by the way, so is Shields. In a huge move that played out in front of the cameras at WEC 48 Faber vs Aldo, UFC President Dana White was seen sitting next to the Middleweight Champion, bragging that he was signing Shields away from Strikeforce.
Not a good series of events for Strikeforce. As always, Coker remained low key, and simply went about his business, setting up tonight's card, which will air live from the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
In the main event, Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem will return to the United States to defend the title against Brett Rogers. This has the potential to be a very interesting, but fast and furious battle. The 6'5'' Overeem was born in England but grew up in Amsterdam. He became a big star in Japan by becoming one of the hardest hitting Light Heavyweights the MMA had ever seen. Overeem captured the vacant Strikeforce Heavyweight Title in November, 2007 by wailing on Paul Buentello with a succession of brutal knees to the body.
But since then, Overeem has not fought a single time in the United States. He has bulked up, going from 229 at the time of his title victory to 261 pounds. His power cannot be denied. He was won six of his last seven matches in under two minutes. Overeem was scheduled to face the then-undefeated Rogers last year, but a fight with a number of bouncers caused a hand injury, which subsequently saw him fall victim to an infection.
Rogers, however, became a bigger star for losing a match than if he stayed undefeated. At 10-1, Rogers had knocked out every single one of his opponents. Then, instead of getting the title match so many thought he had earned, he stepped into the cage against Fedor Emelianenko on November 7th. At the end of the 1st round, there were many who thought the referee was going to step in and call a TKO for Strikes as Rogers was pummeling the legendary Russian fighter.
But the bloodied Emelianenko came back in the second round and tagged Rogers right on the chin. It was a perfect shot. Moments later, referee John McCarthy stopped the bout. But something strange happened coming out the fight. Rogers emerged a much bigger star. He had given Fedor more of a fight than anyone had seen in quite some time. Rogers, who was within moments of defeating Fedor in the 1st round, became the guy to watch in Strikeforce.
So tonight, Rogers steps into the cage, looking for a rematch with Fedor, and looking to become the Strikeforce World Heavyweight Champion. Overeem looks to silence the critics, defend his title on national television, and be the man Fedor has to challenge for title, presuming Fedor defeats Fabricio Werdum on June 26th in San Jose.
In other anticipated action, former UFC Heavyweight Champion Andrei Arlovski tries to get his career back on track but runs up against Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva. Roger Gracie fights Kevin Randleman. Jacare Souza takes on Joey Villansenor. Antwain Britt fights Rafael Feijao.
STRIKEFORCE: HEAVY ARTILLERY airs on Showtime at 10pm Eastern/Pacific.
To see the entire gallery of photos from the Strikeforce weigh-ins yesterday, CLICK HERE.
CLICK HERE for our Breaking News story on the Paulie Malignaggi-Amir Khan brawl that took place yesterday in New York City during the weigh-ins for their boxing match tonight at the Wamu Theatre at Madison Square Garden.
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