File Photo: Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog.com
A strong showing against the world’s No. 1 heavyweight, Fedor Emelianenko, has earned Brett Rogers a shot at Alistair Overeem’s heavyweight title, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker told Sherdog.com this week.
The San Jose-based promotion announced on Sunday that Overeem will make his first title defense against Rogers at Strikeforce “Heavy Artillery” on May 15 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo. Strikeforce had delayed announcing the bout’s championship-bout status until then. Emelianenko earned a second-round technical knockout against Rogers on Nov. 7 at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates., Ill., snapping the previously undefeated Roger’s 10-fight win streak.
“Brett Rogers is a guy that lasted one and a half rounds with Fedor (Emelianenko), where a lot of others have been getting annihilated in the first minute,” said Coker. “We feel Brett’s qualified and we’re happy to put the fight together.”
Coker said the promotion felt no pressure to make Overeem’s next bout a title defense no matter opponent, despite the fact the 29-year-old Dutch striker hasn’t returned to the U.S. to fight for Strikeforce since he won its heavyweight championship in November 2007.
“The thought was always to have a title defense,” said Coker. “We were working on another format that we thought could be a lot of fun, but we decided not to implement the new format, maybe not until next year.”
Coker declined to elaborate about the alternative “format” the company had been considering, which would have kept Overeem-Rogers a non-title affair.
The 29-year-old Rogers, whose contract was acquired by Strikeforce following the demise of Pro Elite’s EliteXC, rose to prominence when he knocked out former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski at a Strikeforce event last June in St. Louis. The 22-second knockout was Roger’s tenth victory in a row by way of his striking.
Coker also seemed unfazed by the criticism that has already come the promotion’s way for allowing a fighter to vie for one of its titles coming off of a defeat.
“Let’s watch the fight and see,” said Coker.