Alistair Overeem (32-11 MMA, 2-0 SF) wants American fans to get ready. There are no more obstacles in the way of his American MMA career; Strikeforce is the priority for 2010.
In an exclusive interview with MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) today, the Strikeforce heavyweight champion said he is likely to meet Brett Rogers (10-1 MMA, 2-1 SF) in a non-title fight on an as-yet-unannounced card set for May 15 in St. Louis, Mo.
Although Strikeforce has not placed an event permit request to the Missouri State Athletic Commission, all signs point to a second trip to the 22,000-seat Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
The promotion made its first visit there this past June for "Strikeforce: Shields vs. Lawler."
Overeem announced the Rogers fight earlier today on his Twitter account but clarified that the matchup is not confirmed. He also added that a rumored appearance at DREAM.13 against Neil Grove or Josh Barnett is also unconfirmed.
"I'll know this week," he said.
Keeping up with the Dutch fighter's schedule has proven a difficult task for American fans. Overeem was slated to face Rogers at "Strikeforce: Shields vs. Lawler" in 2009 before he injured his hand in an Amsterdam nightclub brawl and suffered severe complications, which he said shelved him for a follow-up appearance two months later against Fabricio Werdum at "Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg."
Just 11 days after the proposed Werdum fight, Overeem entered the 2009 K-1 Grand Prix and made two appearances for the kickboxing promotion before he lost to Badr Hari in the tournament's semifinals. Along the way, he picked up two MMA wins (via submission over Tony Sylvester and James Thompson) before he defeated Kazuyuki Fujita in his most recent appearance at the Dec. 31 "Dynamite!! 2009" event in Japan.
Overeem has not defended his title since November 2007, when he won the vacant belt by defeating Paul Buentello at "Strikeforce: Four Men Enter, One Man Survives."
Overeem's manager, Bas Boon, said his fighter made far more money competing for K-1 and assured American fans he will return in April or May. Boon, though, would not confirm the Rogers bout.
Meanwhile, Overeem said he hopes to fight in the 2010 K-1 Grand Prix but that Strikeforce obligations come first.
"If I can do K-1 after these fights or in between, that's OK, but if not, then I will go for Strikeforce," he said. "It's been too long. Last year was a good year in K-1, but this year, I want to fight in MMA."
The chance of a long-rumored fight with Fedor Emelianenko appears to be a longshot. Emelianenko will not appear on Strikeforce's second CBS-televised event, which is set for April 17 in Nashville, Tenn., and he is currently in a contract dispute with the San Jose, Calif.-based promotion. He is rumored to be fighting on the May 15 card against an unnamed opponent.
While Overeem counts the top-ranked Russian among his targets stateside, there is too much red tape between them.
"Fedor doesn't want to fight," Overeem said. "His manager doesn't want to fight. That's basically the message I'm getting out of all of this. The management said, 'Yeah, we want to fight Alistair, but first, Alistair must fight somebody else.' Basically, you need two parties to agree on a fight. Otherwise it's not going to happen.
"And now, I don't know what is going to happen because I think [Fedor] might want to leave Strikeforce. I'm not really occupied with the situation; I'm just focused on myself and my training."
Overeem was more than happy, though, to take on Rogers, who has called him out on several occasions and demanded he defend his title or give up the belt.
"He's an excellent opponent," Overeem said. "I'm looking forward to [smacking] his face and his loud mouth. I'm really happy that Strikeforce came with this fight so now we can settle things once and for all."
Rogers manager, Mike Reilly, declined to comment on a potential fight between Rogers and Overeem.
"I don't think it's going to be for the title because [Brett] lost to Fedor," Overeem said. "He’s coming off a loss, so I don't think they're going to put it for the title, but it's up to the promotion."
Rogers fights for the first time since his November loss to Emelianenko at Strikeforce's first CBS-televised event. The TKO defeat snapped his 10-fight win streak (all of the wins came via stoppage due to strikes), which included Strikeforce victories over Abongo Humphrey and Andrei Arlovski.
After a long absence, Overeem intends to prove his critics wrong and make his mark once again in the U.S.
"If people take the time to look what the situation is, there's no secrets; there's no strange stuff going on," he said. "I can look you in the face and answer your questions. Then they'll see that things turn out the way they turn out.
"There are no obstacles for me." Link