Wanted: Heavyweight Champion Who Will Defend Belt

By E. Spencer Kyte (espencerkyte@mmaratings.net)

When Strikeforce announced that their Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem would be defending his belt against Fabricio Werdum on the massive August 15th card in San Jose, California, my first thoughts were, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

A couple days ago, Alistair Overeem pulled out of his fight. The hand he injured in a bar fight back when he was schedule to defend against Brett Rogers still hasn’t healed.

Well over a year and a half into his title run, the Dutch fighter hasn’t defended his belt once and it’s time for Strikeforce to do something about it.

This isn’t the first time I’ve addressed this topic. Back in the beginning stages of Keyboard Kimura, I spoke about the need for Strikeforce to move on from both of their inactive champions, Overeem and Middleweight champ Cung Le, especially considering how quickly they rolled out an interim lightweight belt when Josh Thomson got hurt.

Scott Coker and Co. have done so with Le’s middleweight belt, as Jake Shields will be facing an as-of-yet undetermined opponent for the interim strap later in the year, and now it is time to do the same with the heavyweight belt.

At least Cung Le has stepped away from his career as a fighter entirely during his hiatus; he’s off making movies and getting married.

On the other hand, “The Demolition Man” has remained in the ring, just not a Strikeforce ring. Since winning the title over Paul Buentello in Novemeber 2007, Overeem has fought on four different occasions in Japan.

I could see if there weren’t any worthy replacements available, but there is.

Brett Rogers is one of the more intriguing heavyweight prospects in the game and Coker and Co. did the right thing in deciding against allowing him to fill in against Fedor Emelianenko next weekend. The same goes for Fabricio Werdum, the well-respected veteran of Pride and the UFC who was originally set to face Overeem.

Instead of sending either to buoy Affliction’s sinking show, why not replace Overeem with Rogers, placing an interim heavyweight title on the line?

Both would be worthy champions, it would keep the August 15 Main Card at an amazing four title fights, and give the organization something the heavyweight division has clearly been lacking …

A champion that actually defends his belt.

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