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Strikeforce Looks To Expand Into Canada, Japan with Heavyweight Grand Prix

OvereemStrikeforce CEO Scott Coker has helped expand the San Jose-based promotion into various new markets since the promotion’s debut on Showtime in 2009.

Now, Strikeforce may continue its expansion internationally, as Coker recently named Canada and Japan as possible destinations for its upcoming heavyweight tournament.

Speaking with MMAWeekly, Coker stated “We’re having a couple conversations right now and we definitely want to travel to Canada at some point, which we’re working on.”

Coker went on to say that he may seek to hold one leg of the upcoming heavyweight grand prix tournament in Japan as well.

“We’d definitely like to take one leg of the tournament at some point, it doesn’t have to be the next one or it could be the semifinals or maybe even the fights, but we’d like to eventually this year take one of those legs to Japan.”

Coker noted that many of Strikeforce’s current stars such as tournament favorites Alistair Overeem and Fedor Emelianenko already have a strong presence in the “Land Of The Rising Sun.”

“I just feel like with all the stars that we have and the fan base there for these fighters over there, I mean these fighters have a ton of fans in Japan,” stated Coker. “Why not go there and bring Strikeforce to Japan some time this year?”

One of the reasons Coker may be looking to expand into international markets, though, is the involvement of Josh Barnett in the heavyweight tournament. Barnett, who lost his license in California in 2009 due to a positive drug test for anabolic steroids before his Affliction bout with Emelianenko, has yet to attain a new one through that state.

Barnett plans to skip his hearing before the California State Athletic Commission, which may cause Barnett and Strikeforce even further headaches.

Coker has stated that several athletic commissions have already agreed to allow Barnett to compete this year, provided he passed a pre-fight drug test. A list of those states is currently unknown. Traveling into international territory such as Japan, however, would allow Barnett, along with the other competitors, to bypass any such drug testing.

While a date and location for quarterfinal bouts pitting Barnett vs Brett Rogers and Overeem vs Fabricio Werdum has yet to be officially announced, the Grand Prix heavyweight tournament kicks off on February 12 in East Rutherford, New Jersey with Strikeforce: Fedor vs Silva.

That event features the other two quarterfinal bouts between Emelianenko and Antonio “Big Foot” Silva as well as Andrei Arlovski vs Sergei Kharitonov.

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