Sources tell Sherdog.com that Strikeforce will push back its April heavyweight tournament bouts. | Dave Mandel
With the first round of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix in the books, April 9 had become the focus for the other half of the quarterfinals, but it now appears that fans will have to wait a little longer to see who will be squaring off with Antonio Silva and Sergei Kharitonov.
Sherdog.com learned today via sources close to the promotion that Strikeforce is planning to run its previously scheduled April date in California, and that the two remaining quarterfinal bouts will most likely be pushed off the card.
A fight between Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez and Japanese slugger Tatsuya Kawajiri is expected to comprise one of the top two spots on the bill, while welterweight champion Nick Diaz is expected to fill the other slot against a yet-to-be-named opponent.
Speaking with Sherdog.com, Diaz’s manager and trainer Cesar Gracie said he was not sure which way the promotion was leaning, but that at least a couple different fighters were under consideration, including Paul Daley -- who fights Deep veteran Yuya Shirai next weekend in the UK -- and Tyron Woodley.
“I don’t know if (Daley) is willing to take the fight,” said Gracie. “I know Strikeforce is hoping to do the fight but he has to win his fight, come out healthy and then he has to accept the fight.”
Gracie also mentioned the possibility of highly-regarded prospect Tyron Woodley as an alternate opponent, but Woodley’s manager Sam Spira told Sherdog.com that any talk of his client taking such a big fight on less than eight weeks notice “was a bit premature.”
Gracie also raised concerns about Diaz fighting on short notice, but was clear that his charge is not likely to turn down a bout with either Daley or Woodley.
“It is a little bit of a short notice but you know how Nick is,” said Gracie. “I don’t think he will have a problem being ready to go by then.”
Heavyweight Grand Prix participant Josh Barnett was contacted for comment on his fight being pushed back and the former UFC champion said it was the first he had heard of the change in schedule.
“I don’t really have anything to say about it,” said Barnett, “I have not heard anything from the promotion yet.”
Barnett said he has been preparing with an April 9 date in mind, but that he would just have to adjust his training to ensure he was in peak condition whenever he eventually steps in the cage with Brett Rogers.
Strikeforce Matchmaker Rich Chou offered no comment when contacted Monday evening. Promotion CEO Scott Coker has not yet replied to requests for confirmation.
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