All the major players participating in Strikeforce’s Heavyweight Grand Prix hit the podium yesterday inside the Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers in New York.
During Wednesday’s press conference, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker was clearly pumped to kick off his 265-pound tournament. While the UFC has monopolized the MMA market, both domestically and internationally, Coker insisted the sport of mixed martial arts doesn’t consist of just one league.
As of now, Coker confirmed Saturday’s battle between Shane Del Rosario and Lavar Johnson is the only alternate HW GP bout at this time. He said he’d be willing to wait 6 weeks to 2 months for an injured contestant to recover. If the injury requires an extended sabbatical, they will then go with a substitute to keep the tournament rolling.
Furthermore, the former boxing promoter suggested it was only a matter of time before MMA would be sanctioned in the state of New York.
Here is what the tournament’s eight participates had to say about their upcoming fights:
“I am very happy to be fighting again and looking forward to a good fight. Losing a fight didn’t change anything for me. I have worked very hard.’’
“I am very, very excited and happy. I’ve wanted this fight a long time. Fedor is a great fighter and a great person. But if you want to rise to the top you have to be the best, and Fedor is definitely still one of the very best.
“The odds are all in Fedor’s favor but the odds do not reflect reality. The truth is, this fight could go either way. I am very confident and I’m here to win.’’
“These three last guys who kicked my (butt) have motivated me. I’m determined. This tournament is a great opportunity.”
“I don’t think I’m getting Arlovski at a good time because of his losses. (His opponents) were some of the best fighters in the world. It’s probably worse for me because he is hungry to win.
“Andrei took great shots from Silva. His fan-friendly style leaves him open. Anyone can get caught. His chin is not suspect.”
“This is going to be the biggest tournament in the world. Fedor is a favorite and a legend but we’ll see who the last man standing is.”
“The best heavyweights in the world are in STRIKEFORCE and it’s great they are doing a tournament to settle who the No. 1 heavyweight in the world is.
“I’m looking forward to fighting Overeem again. He won three belts last year. I may not be the favorite, but I feel I should be one of the favorites to win it.’’
“This tournament is hugely important for MMA at large and especially for the heavyweight division because this is the greatest collection of heavyweight talent ever assembled for one tournament. This is not just a paper thing. The winner will be the No. 1 heavyweight in the world.
“I’m very excited and glad to be part of it and hope to use it as a stepping-stone to re-establish my career and to re-establish myself as the No. 1 fighter.
‘I haven’t lost in years and don’t plan to now.’’
“I’m definitely looking forward to getting back on track and am very happy to be in this tournament. It will show where I am as a fighter.
“This tournament will prove that STRIKEFORCE heavyweights can get in and bang with anybody in the world and that the STRIKEFORCE organization has the best heavyweights in the world. There’s always a question as to who is best, but there will be no question once this is over. There are no easy fights, there are no gimme wins. Whoever wins this tournament will have had to fight to win it, and I like that.
“I am very focused and determined. My sites now are on only one thing and that is my first fight with Josh Barnett. I’ve watched him a long time. I know how good he is. I’m really looking forward to fighting him.’’