‘Revenge:’ Overeem Steps Up To Face Belfort In Strikeforce Main Event

May 10, 2006; New York, NY….Pride Fighting Championship superstar, Alistair “The Demolition Man” Overeem, will replace an ailing Kevin Randleman as the opponent of former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight king, Vitor Belfort, in the main event of the Strikeforce mixed martial arts cage fighting mega-card that will take place at San Jose, California’s HP Pavilion on Friday, June 9th. The headlining contest, which will also serve as a rematch to last year’s meeting between the two that Overeem won, has prompted Strikeforce promoters to aptly re-title their event “Revenge.”

“We are extremely pleased that we’ve been able to rectify the unfortunate situation that had temporarily stripped us of a main event and that our solution will allow us to give our fans the world-class matchup that they expected in the first place,” said Javier Mendez, Fighter Relations Consultant for Silicon Valley Sports and Entertainment (SVS&E). Mendez was instrumental in the swift acquisition of Overeem after Randleman’s camp revealed that a shoulder injury would prevent their fighter from entering the cage.

On April 23rd of last year, Overeem and Belfort went to war during Pride’s “Total Elimination 2005” card at Osaka, Japan’s Osaka Dome. The bout came to an end 9 minutes and 36 seconds into the first round (Note: Pride Fighting Championship schedules the first round of its bouts for 10 minutes) after Overeem, a kickboxer with strong submission skills, slapped a guillotine choke on Belfort.

Two months after the victory, Overeem notched another career-defining win inside of one round when he submitted Russian powerhouse, Igor “Ice Cold” Vovchanchyn, with, interestingly enough, the same choke as he had Belfort.

The towering 6 foot 5 inch Overeem, who will celebrate his 26th birthday next Wednesday, is a native of Holland and a member of Team Golden Glory, one of martial arts fighting’s premiere competition squads that boasts the likes of K-1 champions Semmy Schilt and Chalid Arrab as members. The matchup in San Jose will mark “The Demolition Man’s” debut in The United States.

The 29 year old Belfort’s return to the cage comes off the heels of his successful debut in the sport of professional boxing that saw him score a first round knockout of Josemario Neves during an event in Salvador, Brazil on April 11th.

A native of Brazil and a six-time veteran of the Japan-based Pride Fighting Championship, Belfort burst onto the mixed martial arts scene at age 19 in 1996 and quickly gained distinction for his explosive punching prowess that outshined his superior Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills. Belfort’s hands led him to five consecutive knockouts in his first five professional starts, earning him the nickname “The Phenom.”

While Belfort has claimed victories over a host of big names in the sport including Randy Couture, Heath Herring, and Gilbert Yvel, it was his stunning 44 second stoppage of Wanderlei Silva on October 16, 1998 that remains his greatest conquest to date as well as one of the sport’s most memorable moments. A technical knockout was declared after Belfort unloaded an onslaught of punches that forced Silva back from one end of the cage to the other.

Belfort is a former member of Brazilian Top Team, the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu squad founded by legendary and recently deceased trainer, Carlson Gracie.

Tickets for Strikeforce “Revenge” are on sale at the HP Pavilion box office (408-287-7070) as well as at all Ticketmaster (408-998-TIXS) outlets and Ticketmaster online (www.ticketmaster.com). An arena seating chart can be easily accessed by visiting Strikeforce’s official website, www.strikeforceusa.net, and clicking on the “Tickets” link.

On Friday, March 10th, Strikeforce made history twice over with its “Shamrock vs. Gracie” event, the first sanctioned mixed martial arts fight card in California state history. The star-studded extravaganza, which pitted legendary champion Frank Shamrock against Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Cesar Gracie at the HP Pavilion, played host to 18,265 fans, the largest-ever attendance at a mixed martial arts fight card held in North America.

The Strikeforce mixed martial arts event is being produced by Silicon Valley Sports and Entertainment (SVS&E, www.svse.net), a leading producer of major sporting and entertainment events and the exclusive producer of such events for San Jose, California’s largest entertainment venue, HP Pavilion. SVS&E’s many properties include “Fight Night at the Tank” professional boxing; the National Hockey League’s San Jose Sharks; and the annual ATP men’s professional tennis “SAP Open” event.

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Michael Afromowitz