Coker on King Mo-Babalu Stalemate, International Shows, 135 Women’s Tourney, Kharitonov Signing and More

By Loretta Hunt Jun 17, 2010
Scott Coker file photo: Dave Mandel/

The Ultimate Fighting Championship isn’t the only fight promotion looking to get a slice of the international market. Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker revealed on Wednesday that his San Jose, Calif.-based promotion has been made offers to hold events in Macao and the Middle East. Coker predicted the promotion would debut aboard within the next year, but that the move would hinge heavily on its broadcast arrangement with premium pay channel Showtime.

“…A lot of it depends on the time frame of what time the fight would actually start,” said Coker. “Showtime does not want to do a tape-delayed show."

Coker also told that Japan is another potential destination for Strikeforce within a year’s time. Strikeforce enjoys a healthy strategic alliance with the local Dream promotion there, which has visibly promoted its U.S. partner at recent events.

In other notes:

• Scott Coker took a heavier hand than usual in proposing that friends and training partners Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal and Renato “Babalu” Sobral face off next. Lawal is tentatively scheduled to make his first light heavyweight title defense on Aug. 21, possibly in Houston, and Strikeforce was looking to have Sobral challenge him until the Brazilian declined the title shot. Following his victory on Wednesday, Sobral was adamant that we will never fight Lawal, but Coker was insistent that a conversation between promoter and fighter would be had regardless.

“I know that they’re friends, but sometimes friends in this business have to get it on,” said Coker.

What could delay the bout is Sobral’s recovery time. The 34-year-old Brazilian sustained a gash over his left eye that required stitches and limped heavily into his examination with physicians backstage. A medical suspension is nearly definite.

• Coker said there will be one Strikeforce Challengers event in September and multiple events in October and beyond.

Fedor Emelianenko is expected to fight one more time in 2010 after his June 26 bout against Fabricio Werdum at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif.

Sergei Kharitonov and Valentijn Overeem, older brother to heavyweight champion Alistair, have both signed on to fight in the promotion’s heavyweight division. In this exclusive video, Coker said Kharitonov, a boxer and Russian Airborne Troop member, could meet Andrei Arlovski or Antonio Silva first.

• Coker defended his flexibility in allowing catch-weight bouts: “I enjoy them. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a catch-weight fight when both fighters are great. Believe me, these guys all have options. You can’t make a fighter fight a fight he really doesn’t want to…it’s for special occasions. We don’t do it all the time, (though) we’ve probably done it more than most, but I think all the leagues do it now.”

• Coker confirmed that he spoke with Bellator Fighting Championships’ CEO Bjorn Rebney last week regarding a proposed bout between lightweight champions Gil Melendez and Eddie Alvarez. Coker said the possible co-promoted bout would be revisited in 4-6 months, as Melendez sustained a hand injury during his bout with Shinya Aoki last April. Coker also brought up other considerations, like intellectual property and footage rights, which would need to be hashed out as well.

• Coker said the promotion would announce the participants of a 135-pound eight-woman tournament next week. Coker said all the competitors have been confirmed.

Erin Toughill will likely make her promotional debut in August at either the Challengers or the proposed Houston event, said Coker. The 5-foot-10 Toughill, who was victorious twice in 2009, was slated to fight for Strikeforce in two separate 145-pound bouts that never came to fruition.

• Heisman Trophy winner and former Olympian Herschel Walker will have his second fight for Strikeforce in the fall, said Coker: “He just arrived in San Jose a week ago and started his training camp back at AKA for his fall fight.” Coker said Walker’s opponent could be named in the next few weeks.

• Strikeforce will reconvene with CBS following its June 26 show to discuss another live event on the major broadcast network. Coker expects to have an answer by early July.

• Coker acknowledged that Nick Diaz and others had received consent orders from the Tennessee Athletic Commission to sign and send back in, accepting recent disciplinary action imposed on them. Strikeforce welterweight champion Diaz, lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez, middleweight champion Jake Shields, and middleweight Jason “Mayhem” Miller are four of six individuals who were handed down three-month suspensions and $5,000-$7,500 fines for their participation in an in-cage brawl that erupted after an April 17 event in Nashville, Tenn.

The 90-day suspensions begin upon the TAC’s receipt of the signed consent orders and their penalty checks.

• Coker said Kimbo Slice is still not a consideration for the promotion.
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