Anticipating the possibility of an injury or suspension interfering with the three-round, eight-man heavyweight tournament planned for the next several months, Strikeforce appears to already have a contingency plan in place and is looking at a pair of match-ups to provide replacements if necessary. Both fights are targeted for February 12 in New Jersey when the tournament’s opening quartet, including Fedor Emelianenko, will face off.
According to separate reports by MMAJunkie, Shane Del Rosario will put his undefeated record on the line against Lavar Johnson at the event, while Valentijn Overeem, older brother of Strikeforce champ and tournament participant Alistair Overeem, will fight storied kickboxer Ray “Sugarfoot” Sefo.
Del Rosario will enter the cage against Johnson with a 10-0 record and nine first-frame finishes including seven by way of strikes. However, while the 26-year old may pack power in his hands, he’s also submitted two opponents including an Omoplata victory in November 2009. Johnson provides an intriguing challenge for Del Rosario, as he is a 15-3 striker riding a seven-fight win streak with six opening round TKOs of his own in the bunch.
Sefo’s scrap with Overeem substitutes experience for youth in comparison to its “reserve” peer, though provides an interesting pairing for long-time fans of Mixed Martial Arts and combat sports in general. Sefo is kickboxing champion and multi-time K-1 World Grand Prix finalist, while the Dutchman he’s facing may only be 28-25 but has remarkably finished twenty-seven of the twenty-eight adversaries he’s found success against (eleven TKOs and sixteen submissions).
The duo of reserve bouts join Emelianenko’s quarter-final clash against Antonio Silva, as well as another opening round affair between Andrei Arlovski and Sergei Kharitonov. The other four main-bracket participants in the tournament are Overeem (A.), who is expected to defend his belt against Fabricio Werdum in March, as well as Brett Rogers and Josh Barnett who are also targeted for a fight on the same card.