In less than two weeks (September 10, 2011), Strikeforce will hold one of the biggest events in the promotion's history as the Heavyweight Grand Prix enters its second stage.
Former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett is set to square off with "The Paratrooper" Sergei Kharitonov and Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva will take on Daniel Cormier as the tournament has been whittled down to four.
Barnett and Kharitonov easily handled their first round opponents, Brett Rogers and Andrei Arlovski, respectively, while Antonio Silva scored a tremendous upset over tournament favorite Fedor Emelianenko.
Daniel Cormer enters the tournament as an alternate in place of Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem who was removed from the field due to contract issues.
Barnett, Kharitonov, Silva and Cormier are all slated to participate in the Strikeforce conference call today (August 30, 2011) at 1 p.m. ET
MMAmania.com will deliver up-to-the-second live updates of the conference call which also includes Strikeforce president Scott Coker after the jump:
Brian Hemminger here. The call is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.
1:14 p.m. - We're officially getting started. Only Josh Barnett and Daniel Cormier are on the call at the moment.
Scott Coker: It's nice to have local guys fighting on the card and we actually just announced a fight featuring one of Jorge Gurgel's students.
Daniel Cormier: I think it's a great time for me to enter the tournament. I've just come off the greatest win of my career and shown a great progression in my skillset. I didn't even have to use my key skill which is wrestling. I think my skills and my team and everyone around me gives me a great opportunity. Styles make fights and I think I have the style to beat Antonio Silva. It's a great time for me and I feel like I turned the corner.
Daniel Cormier: There's been some ups and downs. Cain coming back was perfect. He came back at the perfect time and he's been released to fight when I had about six weeks left in training. I work with the best heavyweight in the world. Cain Velasquez is the best heavyweight in the world. All my questions are answers. Antonio Silva has a lot of momentum right now and this is a chance to springboard myself off of him.
Daniel Cormier: It was extremely important for me. I went into that fight (with Jeff Monson) with little doubt. I find confidence in the things I do on a daily basis. Nothing has ever been given to me. Beating Jeff was huge for me because I respect him so much. This is a guy I've watched since I wrestled in college. It gave me a lot of confidence going into this tournament knowing that if he fought some other guys in the tournament, he'd probably win those.
Josh Barnett: Sergei is a tough individual. He pulled the wool over everyone's eyes and acted like he didn't know stand-up and then he showcased it against Ninja. He was always near the top of the heavyweights and never got over the hump. He looked dominant against Arlovski but I'm not Arlovski so we'll see how that turns out.
Daniel Cormier: I think I'm gonna be quicker than he is, more athletic, more agile. He's bigger, stronger and more experienced. The most dominant skill in MMA is wrestling and there's no bigger gap in our skill-sets than wrestling. I'm gonna push the pace on him and get in his face and take him where he hasn't been so far. I think I have the ability to do all those things. I want to make him wrestle for seven minutes. He went to what he does best against Fedor and I can't let him do that. I can't let him get where he's comfortable. He takes guys down. Fedor was striking good with him in the first round and Antonio Silva put him on his back in the second. I've got to take him down and make him uncomfortable.
Josh Barnett: Maybe I knock him out on the feet. I'm a guy that's able and willing to take opportunity. There isn't a part of this fight that I feel uncomfortable at. I go into this fight with every skill necessary.
Josh Barnett: He's a bruiser. He likes to come in, take shots to the face, step inside, work the body and then come on top with big shots. You don't stand in front of guys like that.
Scott Coker: There's ongoing discussions with Hendo and that hasn't been determined yet. We'll keep you posted. I want to watch the King Mo - Roger Gracie fight and determine what happens after. We have some great 205 matchups and when the timing is right, we'll let everyone know.
Scott Coker: They're talking about a fight before the end of the year for Cyborg Santos but an opponent hasn't been determined yet.
Scott Coker: Daniel Cormier was the first guy we considered to replace Overeem. In his stand-up, he looked like a kickboxer. Everyone knows his wrestling is unbelievable and we just felt he was the right guy and anybody with Olympic level wrestling is going to give people a tough time. Let's see if he can get Silva on his back and if he can, I think Silva is going to have a long night.
Scott Coker: Daniel was always considered as a top alternate and we can anticipate some great action on Saturday
Scott Coker: The winner of the tournament will not be awarded the heavyweight title. Right now it has not been determined. The finals will be in the first quarter of 2012.
Daniel Cormier: This is a huge opportunity. Bigfoot Silva is a professional so I have a feeling he'll adjust accordingly.
Daniel Cormier: It's not my job to be exciting. It's their job to learn takedown defense. Why should I give up my biggest advantage? It's your job to learn all areas of the game. Just because I take you down doesn't mean you can't use your jiu-jitsu. There's all these guys running around with black belts. Try to submit me then.
Josh Barnett: I think a lot of people have taken shortcuts in using athleticism as a defensive tactic. The finishing ability takes more skill. You want to go out there and use your freestyle wrestling. I think it comes down to finishing. I go out there and finish people. There are guys that are really strong in certain areas but they're not well-rounded. It's not just wrestlers but it's jiu-jitsu guys and strikers too. I have an amateur wrestling background, I was a junior national and I've trained with some great guys.
Scott Coker: Shawn Shelby highly recommended Jordan Mein and I'm looking forward to a great fight.
Scott Coker: We have talked about it and we're interested in it (putting a Strikeforce show in Canada).
Josh Barnett: Titles and things like that are a spoils of war. You have to go out and win battles before you raid the dead for all their belongings. Honestly I would love it if the finals of this tournament were for the heavyweight title. It would be a nice punctuation mark at the end of it and that doesn't change getting my job done. I have to go out there and beat my opponent otherwise you walk home with a black eye and wounded pride.
Daniel Cormeir: I learned to not go backwards, not get caught against the cage. I want to just be willing to get into a fight with Silva. I think the biggest thing I learned against that fight was to not get pinned against the cage or get put on my back.
On whether or not he's concerned about needing to win to stay employed with Zuffa because of the troubles with Golden Glory:
Sergei Kharitonov: I will win, I must win.
On Golden Glory and the pressure to win for Sergei:
Scott Coker: I think dialogue is ongoing and I think the dialogue is good. I think the temperature is warming a bit but at the end of the day, it's always better to win.
That concludes today's conference, thanks for stopping by guys!