With last week’s announcement regarding Strikeforce’s upcoming heavyweight tournament, as well as a pair of reserve fights attached to the event’s opening round on February 12 in New Jersey, speculation quickly began on who else from the promotion’s roster might join the Grand Prix grouping. Though names like Bobby Lashley and Dan Cormier were rumored it appears Chad Griggs, who beat Lashley this past August, will serve as one of the final two alternates with his opponent being 7-1 Gian Villante. Villante is from the area and has fought a number of times for Jersey-based Ring of Combat where he’s currently heavyweight champion.
The match-up was reported by the L.A. Times who also mentioned its attachment to the 2/12 event. Requests for comment from Griggs’ camp and Strikeforce representatives have not been returned as of this posting.
The 9-1 Griggs has won his last four fights by way of TKO including his comeback victory over Lashley at “Strikeforce – Houston”. While “The Grave Digger” has seen the third round twice in his career he’s never actually gone to decision with all nine of his victories involving strike-based finishes (and the lone loss being a submission).
Like Griggs, Villante has never seen the judges’ scorecards with six of his seven total wins coming in the first round with four TKOs and two tap-outs in the bunch.
The two heavyweights will join four other pairings involved in the Strikeforce World Grand Prix when the curtain falls at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford. Also set for the card are main-bracket match-ups featuring Fedor Emelianenko fighting Antonio Silva and Andrei Arlovski in action against Sergei Kharitonov, as well as reserve bouts including Valentijn Overeem facing Ray Sefo and undefeated Shane Del Rosario seeking success against Lavar Johnson.
PHOTO CREDIT – ESTHER LIN / STRIKEFORCE