A pair of previously reported heavyweights bouts is now official for April 17 with today's official announcement of "Strikeforce St. Louis: Heavy Artillery."
As expected Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem (32-11 MMA, 2-0 SF) meets Brett Rogers (10-1 MMA, 2-1 SF) in the night's headliner, and former UFC champ Andrei Arlovski (15-7 MMA, 0-1 SF) meets former EliteXC title-holder Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva (13-2 MMA, 0-1 SF) in the co-headliner.
Today's release didn't state if Overeem vs. Rogers will be a title fight, and sources close to the competitors today told MMAjunkie.com (http://www.mmajunkie.com) that an official decision hasn't been made about the championship status of the bout. Strikeforce officials could not be reached for comment.
The event takes place at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis and airs on Showtime.
MMAjunkie.com first reported the Overeem vs. Rogers fight earlier this month. Overeem initially said the fight would be a non-title affair, though he later told other outlets his belt, in fact, would be on the line. A few days later, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker told MMAjunkie.com a decision hadn't been made either way and that an announcement is forthcoming that "might be something that people are not expecting."
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." Since winning the title, Overeem has competed overseas, primarily with Japan's DREAM promotion, while extending his current undefeated streak to eight (which includes seven stoppage wins and a no-contest with Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic).
Rogers, meanwhile, looks to rebound from the first loss of his career, which also came in the highest-profile bout of his career. In November, Rogers met famed heavyweight and former PRIDE champ Fedor Emelianenko in the main event of Strikeforce's first-ever CBS-televised event. Rogers proved a game opponent but suffered an eventual second-round TKO loss. Prior to the defeat, he had 10 straight wins via strikes, and eight had come in the first round.
In the night's co-headliner, Arlovski fights for the first time since Strikeforce's initial St. Louis show, which took place in June 2009. There, he suffered a 22-second TKO loss to Brett Rogers, which followed a first-round knockout to Fedor Emelianenko at "Affliction: Day of Reckoning" six months prior. Prior to the back-to-back losses, the former UFC superstar had posted five consecutive wins and reemerged as one of the world's top-five heavyweight fighters.
He can get his career back on track against Silva, whose six-fight win streak recently came to an end with a close but unanimous decision loss to Fabricio Werdum at Strikeforce's November 2009 debut on CBS. Silva posted the win streak with now-defunct EliteXC promotion (where he defeated Justin Eilers for the title) and World Victory Road's Japanese-based Sengoku event series.