When a story came out today by a Russian news site quoting Fedor Emelianenko’s coach Vladimir Voronov blaming “The Last Emperor’s” loss to Antonio Silva on illegal psychological control maneuvers employed by “Bigfoot’s” camp, most of us shrugged it off as bullshit, however there might be some truth to the story.
(My God. I keep expecting Silva to do this to him. / Photo courtesy of MMA.us)
By Anton Gurevich
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Fedor Emelianenko will make his long-anticipated return to Mixed Martial Arts this weekend, facing none other than Brazilian heavy-hitter Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva. The fight will open the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, as the winner is expected to advance into the semi-finals against either Alistair Overeem or Fabricio Werdum.
The fight between Emelianenko and Antonio Silva is another classic “Fedor Fight.” Once again, “The Last Emperor” is facing a significantly larger opponent, who looks physically superior to the Russian. Silva will be four inches taller than Fedor, and probably around 45 pounds heavier. On top of that, Bigfoot will enjoy a huge eight-inch reach advantage, which could be a deadly tool during the fight.
(Antonio Silva is fascinated by Fabricio Werdum’s freakishly normal-sized chin.)
Photos and text by Matthew Kaplowitz
Strikeforce has graced the East Coast with their presence throughout this week, as the hype machine for their massive heavyweight grand prix is in full flux. Starting on Tuesday with a meet-and-greet for fans at the Roseland Ballroom in Midtown Manhattan with all eight of the tournament fighters, and continuing on Wednesday downtown with their press conference, Strikeforce is leaving their imprint on the tri-state area, informing natives of New York and New Jersey that the business of MMA has more than three letters.
This journalist/nerd was in the house for their press conference, which saw not only all members of the tournament, but the reserve fighters as well, packed into the swank Lighthouse 61 at Chelsea Piers, the skyline of New York dramatically posed behind them. Personally, I was excited to see that Strikeforce was feeding the reporters, and quite well at that, but even more exciting was the realization that this epic tournament was happening in my area. With MMA still illegal in New York, and very few big shows coming to neighboring states, having Saturday’s event a thirty-minute drive from The Big Apple was bound to help shed some light on how much of an impact MMA can have on the NY economy.
(Remember when Sergei Kharitonov sent Alistair Overeem‘s lifeless body through the ropes at K-1 Hero’s 10? No? Then you really need to watch these videos…)
In our excitement for Strikeforce’s potentially insane heavyweight tournament, one point seems to be getting lost in the narrative — namely, that these guys have already fought each other many, many times before. Five of the eight competitors (Werdum, Arlovski, Overeem, Emelianenko, Rogers) have previously faced at least three other fighters in the tournament field. Fabricio Werdum has actually fought everyone except Brett Rogers and Josh Barnett, and only Barnett himself has managed to go his entire career without bumping up against anybody else in this year’s bracket.
All told, there’s eleven twelve fights worth of shared history among the Strikeforce HWGP competitors, dating back over five years. To help you study for the quarterfinals next month, we’ve posted them all below in chronological order…
UPDATE: We originally forgot to include Fabricio Werdum’s decision win over Antonio Silva. So actually, there have been 12 previous meetings, not 11. The video has now been added.
(Sergei Kharitonov def. Fabricio Werdum via split decision; PRIDE 30, 10/23/05)
(Alistair Overeem def. Sergei Kharitonov via TKO, 5:13 of round 1; PRIDE 31, 2/26/06)
Strikeforce has just released the bracket for their clusterfuctacular heavyweight tournament, which should clear up some of the conflictingreports about who’s fighting who. What it doesn’t specify is when these fights are taking place. We know that Emelianenko vs. Silva and Arlovski vs. Kharitonov are both happening February 12th in New Jersey. Overeem/Werdum and Barnett/Rogers are tentatively slated to go down in April, exact date and location TBA. And the semi-finals and finals? Your guess is as good as ours, bro. With a little bit of luck, this entire dirty business will be settled by the time President Trump takes office.
(Personally, I think that getting all these guys together for a single-night tournament is the only way you can insure that the semi-finals and finals will actually take place, but we’re trying to stay positive here. For what it’s worth, Scott Coker is adamant that Josh Barnett’s licensing issues will not bar him from competing in the GP.)
The San Jose, California-based promotion revealed to Sherdog over the weekend three of its planned quarter final bouts.
According to the report, Fedor Emelianenko will look to rebound from the only legitimate loss of his career when he takes on Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva and Andrei Arlovski will attempt to disprove all of his detractors who feel the Belarusian fighter would be better suited to play a henchman in b-movies when he locks horns with Josh Barnett at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey on February 12.
Headlined by a rematch ten years in the making, and featuring a solid supporting cast of knockout artists, Strikeforce: Henderson vs. Babalu could be the sleeper event of the year. The main card is about to kick off at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, and CagePotato contributor Matt Kaplan will be liveblogging it as quickly as his little fingers will allow. Round-by-round updates from the Showtime broadcast can be found after the jump, beginning at 10 p.m. ET. Refresh the page every few minutes for all the latest, and share your own thoughts in the comments section.
To be fair, Kyle has competed at light-heavyweight and heavyweight throughout his career, and has gone 5-0 with 1 no-contest in his last six fights. But his record — especially under the Strikeforce banner, where he’s never won as a heavyweight — suggests that he’s best suited for 205. Competing at light-heavy last year, he scored an upset TKO over current champ Rafael Cavalcante, and made another LHW appearance in July, choking out Abongo Humphrey. The last time Kyle competed for Strikeforce as a heavyweight, he was quickly choked out by Fabricio Werdum.