Grappling wizard Roger Gracie is expected to make his return to Strikeforce action on June 18th in Dallas, Texas. A current plan is in place for Gracie to take on recently-dethroned former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante. Gracie has already verbally agreed to the fight.
A source close to the promotion confirmed plans for the June matchup with MMARising.com today, but a key point in the negotiations remains Gracie’s desire to finalise a contract extension with Strikeforce before returning to the cage. Gracie is currently on the final fight of his existing Strikeforce deal.
Gracie (4-0-0) is widely regarded as one of the very best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners in all of mixed martial arts, and holds a multitude of championship victories in BJJ. The 29-year-old has submitted all four of his MMA opponents to date, including an impressive rear-naked choke victory over tough veteran Trevor Prangley on January 29th. While his dedication to MMA has at times been questioned, Gracie has recently stated that he plans to remained focused on his growing mixed martial arts career.
The London-based Gracie may face a busy schedule in June, as he is set to compete in the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Championships in the first week of the month. However, Gracie believes that he will have sufficient time to prepare for a return to MMA just two weeks later on the 18th and his participation on the Strikeforce card in Dallas is reportedly all but assured. While not yet officially set, Cavalcante has emerged as the leading contender to face Gracie on the card.
Cavalcante (10-3-0) captured the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Championship on August 21, 2010 by upsetting the previously unbeaten Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal. Unfortunately for Cavalcante, he then fell victim to the “curse” of the promotion’s 205-pound belt and, like the past three champions before him, was defeated in his first title defence. The loss came at the hands of former two-division PRIDE champion Dan “Hendo” Henderson this past weekend in Columbus, Ohio. Prior to the defeat against Henderson, Cavalcante had won six of his last seven fights.
The tentative matchup between Gracie and Cavalcante would represent an interesting clash of styles between two fighters who have yet to go to a decision in their MMA careers. Gracie’s submission skills would tangle with Cavalcante’s knockout power, with the winner of the planned bout taking a step closer to the top of the division.
Strikeforce: Dallas takes place on June 18th at the American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas. The event will feature the remaining two quarterfinal matchups in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix. Reigning champion Alistar “Demolition Man” Overeem faces Fabricio “Vai Cavalo” Werdum for the second time, while Josh “The Babyfaced Assassin” Barnett battles Brett “The Grim” Rogers.
Update: Cavalcante informs Tatame.com that he has not yet been offered the bout with Gracie for the June 18th card. MMARising.com has confirmed that Strikeforce intends to pursue the matchup and that Gracie has agreed to the fight, but the bout remains tentative pending Cavalcante’s approval.
(Photo Credit: Sherdog.com)