Just days after another successful STRIKEFORCE event in St. Louis, Mo., CEO Scott Coker took time out to answer six questions.
STRIKEFORCE moves to Portland, Ore., this Friday night for a Challengers Series event, which will be televised live on SHOWTIME® at 11 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast).
Question: How did the results from Saturday’s event reshuffle the STRIKEFORCE heavyweight division?
Coker: “I think Alistair Overeem reinforced his status as a dominant champion in the division. “Big Foot” Silva showed the world that he’s also among the elite fighters in the division He fought a very game Andrei Arlovski and displayed tremendous skill on his feet during some great exchanges between the two. Overall, we saw some very exciting action in the heavyweight division on Saturday night, giving us more to look forward to.”
Question: What are your thoughts on the state of STRIKEFORCE’s middleweight division?
Coker: “Our middleweight division is arguably our deepest weight class in terms of talent. The fight between Jacare Souza and Joey Villasenor on Saturday is an example of how tight the competition is in this division. Joey fought a great fight against a guy that is regarded as one of the best in the world in the 185-pound division. At the same time, I think Jacare learned that there aren’t any easy fights in STRIKEFORCE. Jacare clearly dominated the first round against Joey, but Joey continued to come at him and press the action no matter how badly he was hurt.”
Question: What is going to happen with Jake Shields?
Coker: “Jake is our champion and a great Jiu-Jitsu stylist. We are still in a period of negotiations with him, so we’ll see. We inherited Jake’s EliteXC contract last year and we have to find an agreement that works for both sides. I think it is clear, though, that no single fighter makes or breaks our roster in any weight division.
“STRIKEFORCE has a great track record of seeking and acquiring the fighters we want to compete in our organization. It’s important not to forget that the No. 1 male and No. 1 female MMA fighters on the planet fight for STRIKEFORCE.”
Question: What’s next for “Feijao?”
Coker: “Feijao’s got a very fast paced, exciting style of fighting and I think he surprised a lot of people on Saturday with his knockout of Antwain Britt, who’s another one of the sport’s top prospects in the light heavyweight division. We’ll continue to test Feijao with top competition and see how he progresses. A title shot could be in his future if he continues to fight the way he did on Saturday.”
Question: What did you think about the non-televised fights on Saturday’s card?
Coker: “We had some great submissions and other interesting results in the preliminary bouts. I take my hat off to Jesse Finney, who is not only a great competitor, but also a great promoter and pioneer of MMA in the St. Louis market. Jesse put on a great show on Saturday. He’s still unbeaten and still hasn’t been taken the distance of a fight after five starts. The fight between Lyle Beerbohm and Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro was a very tactical fight as well. Both fighters displayed great grappling skills and produced one of the best fights of the night.”
Question: What are you looking forward to?
Coker: We’ve got a very busy schedule with a lot of great matchups. This Friday, we will be back on SHOWTIME® with our Challengers series. We have a great main event between Matt Lindland, a former Olympic wrestling silver medallist and highly accomplished MMA star, and “King” Kevin Casey, a former Rickson Gracie protégé and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu expert. We’re also looking forward to having Tyron Woodley back in the cage and to having Roger Bowling, another great prospect, make his STRIKEFORCE debut.
“On June 16, we have a tremendous card scheduled in L.A. featuring Robbie Lawler vs. “Babalu” Sobral, during the E3 gaming expo and, just 10 days later on June 26, Fedor will defend his status at the world’s No. 1 heavyweight and pound-for-pound fighter, against another top contender and incredible submission artist, Fabricio Werdum.”