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Strikeforce Grand Prix pushed back to June

Josh Barnett is introduced to the crowd at

Josh Barnett is introduced to the crowd at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J., on the first night of the Strikeforce Grand Prix. He'll fight Brett Rogers later this year in the quarterfinal round of the tournament. (Feb. 12, 2011) Credit: Newsday / Mario Gonzalez

First, Fedor Emelianenko gets knocked out of the tournament in the quarterfinal round. Then the other half of the quarterfinals goes from April 9 to June 18 in Dallas. Seems like this Strikeforce World Grand Prix heavyweight tournament is full of surprises.

That's a good thing, though, at least in the cage.

The pairings are still intact as Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem fights Fabricio Werdum, and Josh Barnett, pictured above, fights Brett Rogers at the American Airlines Center on June 18 (Showtime, 10 p.m. EDT).

“To build on the tremendous momentum from New Jersey we needed the proper time to promote an event of this magnitude, which is why we have decided to continue the tournament on June 18 at American Airlines Center in Dallas," Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker said in a statement.

It doesn't hurt, either, that Texas is notoriously lax when it comes to drug testing. This is the state that gave a boxing license to Antonio Margarito last August, more than a year after the California State Athletic Commission banned Margarito from fighting because of a hand-wrapping scandal involving a plaster-like material in his gloves. Barnett has been suspended twice by the CSAC for testing postive for performance-enhancing drugs. The TSAC does not regularly do pre-fight testing.

Sliding into the April 9 fight card is an impressive championship doubleheader. Nick Diaz defends his welterweight title against Paul Daley -- hello, slugfest! -- and Gilbert Melendez defends his lightweight title against Tatsuya Kawajiri.

New York Sports