Although March Madness is still a couple of months out, tournament brackets have rapidly become a trending topic. That’s because MMA fans are irate over Strikeforce’s seeding in their blockbuster Heavyweight Grand Prix.
The biggest non-Octagon scrap currently available would star Strikeforce champ Alistair Overeem and Fedor Emelianenko. Prior to getting upset by Fabricio Werdum this past June, most considered the matchup to be the end-all-be-all in the 265-pound weight class.
Although Emelianenko’s first loss in nearly a decade made the box office bout lose a little bit of its luster, it’s still worthy enough for the San Jose, California-based promotion to pop their pay-per-view cherry with as its headliner.
With that in mind, here’s a look at how the highly-anticipated eight-man tourney will play out:
Get why many enthusiasts are puzzled?
If ‘Ubereem’ and Fedor both win their quarterfinal contests, which they will be odds-on favorites to do, the showdown to end all showdowns wouldn’t take place in the finals. However, ESPN.com reports that beginning with Overeem’s contest with Werdum, each Strikeforce title fight throughout the tournament will be a five-round affair.
All other fights during the GP will be of the three-round variety.
“Strikeforce is home to the best heavyweight division in the world; the athlete who runs the gauntlet in a tournament such as this would have to be considered the best heavyweight fighter in the world,” company CEO Scott Coker stated.
That might be true. However, having Overeem and Emelianenko on opposite ends of the brackets and meeting in the finals for the world title would have brought the hysteria to unprecedented levels for Strikeforce.
Another point of contention is Josh Barnett’s eligibility. The multi-time steroid abuser is currently unlicensed to fight in the U.S. after single-handedly taking down Affliction Entertainment with his third flunked drug screening in July 2009.
However, Coker told ESPN “multiple regulatory bodies” are willing to license Barnett – assuming he can produce a clean pee test, of course. California is clearly not one of them.