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Overeem primed for heavyweight MMA Grand Prix

Eight-man MMA tourney matches some of the best fighters in the heavyweight division.

When Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker approached Alistair Overeem about taking part in the promotion’s Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament, the champion didn’t have to think long about his answer.

“I?immediately said yes,” Overeem told Metro.

So did seven others. And the unique eight-man tournament — which kicks off Saturday with a pair of quarterfinal bouts in East Rutherford, N.J. — was born.

Scheduled to take place over the coming months, the event matches the top eight heavyweights in Strikeforce’s division — rivaled only by the UFC in depth and star power — in single-elimination combat.

To the winner goes pride, prestige ... and a shot at Overeem’s Strikeforce belt. He’ll compete in the tournament, but all bouts will be non-title, three-round affairs.

“I think it’s great,” Overeem said. “Great for the sport. It’s the eight best heavyweights in the world. There’s going to be a lot of good fights, but ultimately one champion will come out of it.”

Overeem will face Fabricio Werdum in the quarters. A date has not yet been announced.
Saturday’s tournament opener at the Izod Center (10 p.m., Showtime) is headlined by a quarterfinal between Fedor Emelianenko — the no-longer-unbeaten “Last Emperor” — and Antonio Silva.

Andrei Arlovski and Sergei Kharitonov will also compete in a tournament bout on the card.

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