Saturday, February 12th marks the start of the highly talked about Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix. During this tournament eight of the biggest names in the heavyweight division of MMA will square off for a chance to earn the Grand Prix Title. This weekend features what many people may consider the biggest name of them all.
Fedor Emelianenko will face off against Antonio “Big Foot” Silva. In another Grand Prix matchup, former UFC Heavyweight Champion Andrei Arlovski will face Sergei Kharitonov. Both of these fights will advance one fighter while eliminate the other. Strikeforce is hinging a lot of this event and needs for it to go over very well with the MMA community.
Emelianenko is coming off the first defeat he has suffered in more than ten years. Last June he was forced to tap out by Brazilian Jiu Jitsu specialist Fabricio Werdum in only 69 seconds. Since that loss, many people have questioned if the Russian is still relevant in the world of Mixed Martial Arts and should he be considered one of the best heavyweights. A victory on Saturday will push him in the right direction to quiet those concerns and return to his reign of dominance.
Antonio Silva is considered to be a dark horse in the Grand Prix tourney. He has had strong performances during the last year, in which he defeated Arlovski and Mike Kyle convincingly. The owner of three black belts: Judo, Karate, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Silva has the tools to win this opening bout. He will be the big underdog coming into the bout, but others have shocked the world when facing big names in MMA.
Arlovski was once at the top of the MMA pile and involved in a very heated rivalry with Tim Sylvia while they were a part of the UFC. Since then, the former champion has struggled to return to his winning ways. “The Pit Bull” has gone 0-3 since 2008 where he has suffered two first round knockouts; one to Emelianenko and the other to Brett Rodgers who is also in the Grand Prix, and a decision lost to Silva. Strikeforce has expressed a continuing support of Arlovski, but he needs to gain another win this weekend to avoid being on the chopping block.
Sergei Kharitonov is a Russian MMA veteran that mainstream fans may not know much about. While his name doesn’t hold the drawing power in the states that it would in Russia, he is a viable entrant in this tournament. Kharitonov holds victories over current Strikeforce champion Alistair Overeem, as well as, top contender Fabricio Werdum. The Sambo expert has a long list of competitive experience that will play well in the tournament and can make him an upset champion.
Additional fights will be showcased during the Showtime event. Marc Stevens, who was a member of Team Koscheck during the last season of The Ultimate Fighter, will make his return to the cage since his time on the show. Grand Prix alternates will also be in action to solidify their chances in the tournament should an injury occur. Also, Igor Gracie will make his Strikeforce debut.
Tune into Showtime on Saturday, February 12th to watch Strikeforce: Fedor versus Silva, live from the Izod Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
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