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Strikeforce Grand Prix Semifinals Likely for Fall, Werdum-Overeem Winner Eyes UFC Title Shot

Alistair OvereemStrikeforce CEO Scott Coker has announced that its heavyweight grand prix semifinals will likely take place this fall once the opening round finishes on June 18 at Strikeforce: Overeem vs. Werdum.

Coker also went on to say the finals could end up on pay-per-view, but stopped short of setting a timeframe for when it will take place, according to MMAFighting.

What started as a great idea to generate interest has devolved into somewhat of a logistical nightmare for the promotion. Coker originally hoped to finish the grand prix by the end of 2011, but acknowledged that going into 2012 may be inevitable.

One continuing issue for the promotion has been finding a state that would license Josh Barnett. Barnett has faced ongoing issues with licensing in the U.S. since a failed drug test prior to Affliction: Trilogy. While Barnett is expected to fight Brett Rogers on June 18, Coker revealed that Barnett has yet to be licensed in the state of Texas. While Coker is optimistic about getting Barnett licensed, hurdles remain, as Barnett has been a repeat offender for the use of anabolic steroids. If Barnett were unable to go, Strikeforce would likely turn to their only official remaining alternate, Valentijn Overeem, to face Rogers. Overeem is the brother of Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem and became the only remaining alternate after Shane Del Rosario was injured in a severe car accident.

Despite all of the problems related to grand prix, both Alistair Overeem and Fabricio Werdum are hoping to use the grand prix to earn a shot at the UFC title, according to MMAJunkie. Theirr bout will be a rematch of a 2006 PRIDE matchup, which Werdum won via kimura, but Overeem’s Strikeforce belt will not be on the line. According the tournament bracket, the winner of this bout will face rising contender Antonio Silva next.

On the other side of the bracket, the winner of next week’s bout between Rogers and Barnett will face off with Russian Sergei Kharitonov. Kharitonov destroyed former UFC champion Andrei Arlovski in his first round matchup and recently defeated “Mighty Mo” at United Glory 2010-2011 World Series: Final Round.

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