The MMA world has been ablaze since the end of 2010 when Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker announced the organization’s upcoming eight-man single-elimination tournament, dubbed the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, which was slated to include some of the biggest names in the heavyweight division signed on as competitors. Last night the San Jose-based mixed martial arts promotion kicked off that tournament, as the main card of its “Fedor vs. Silva” event, with two Quarter-Finals match-ups and two alternate qualifying bouts. It was an amazing night of fights, culminating with a fight between “Bigfoot” Antonio Silva (15-2 ) and “The Last Emperor” Fedor Emelianenko (31-3).
There are eight men in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix. While there may be some clear favorites, there are no easy outs. Here’s how MMA Gospel Staff Writer and Guest Columnist Dan Rose expects the Grand Prix to shake out top to bottom. Starting with the favorites and ending with the long-shot, each man has a fighting chance!
“The Last Emperor” Fedor Emelianenko (31-2): Let’s be candid, for those who are familiar with MMA, it’s more or less pointless to try and explain why Fedor has a shot to win an eight-man tournament. But, in case this is your first involvement with mixed martial arts, here’s how it breaks down. Fedor Emelianenko is the Babe Ruth of MMA for two reasons: A) He kind of looks like Babe Ruth, and B) He is without a doubt, the best there’s ever been. In the past Fedor has crushed fellow Grand Prix competitors “The Grim” Brett Rogers (11-2) and “The Pitbull” Andrei Arlovski (14-8) but in June he experienced his first legitimate loss in nearly ten years by the hands, or Arm Triangle Choke, of “Vai Cavalo” Fabricio Werdum (14-4). Fedor has remarkable stand-up; his hands are sharp and very powerful. His ground game is underrated and his submissions top notch. The thing that makes Fedor the very best is how he melds all facets of MMA into his game and will wait for an adversary to make any mistake and then it’s game over. Opponents don’t get a chance to make a second blunder with Fedor. It’s always one-and-done with the greatest heavyweight in the history of combat sports. So, what’s his likely finish in this Grand Prix? He’ll win it. Emelianenko’s odds of winning the Grand Prix are 3 to 1.
The time has finally come. The MMA community has been abuzz ever since the announcement of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, and come Saturday, the wait is finally over. While the fight that is getting the most attention, and rightfully so is “The Last Emperor” Fedor Emelianenko (31-2) taking on “Bigfoot” Antonio Silva (14-2), there are plenty of other dynamic and showy fighters on the card including the likes of “The Pitbull” Andrei Arlovski (14-8), Sergei Kharitonov (16-4), “The Python” Valentijn Overeem (26-21), “Sugarfoot” Ray Sefo (2-1),“The Grave Digger” Chad Griggs (8-1), and Gian Villante (7-1). In one bout of particular interest to the tournament competitors, “Big” Lavar Johnson (13-3) will be facing Shane del Rosario (8-0) in a battle of capable heavyweights competing in an alternate match for the Grand Prix. Shane has eight wins in as many attempts in his career and has only ventured into the second round one time. That’s a pretty impressive rate of early finishes for the polished del Rosario who trains with Team Oyama in California. Lavar Johnson received a lot of press after being a victim a shooting at a family reunion in the summer of 2009. Lavar was struck twice – once in the chest and once in the abdomen – but recuperated and enters this fight on the heels of a seven fight win streak.
Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting – or at least Elton John thought so when he wrote the hit song. Well, as it turns out, this Saturday night will be a great night for fights as the Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Silva live event in East Rutherford, New Jersey kicks off the Heavyweight Grand Prix with two of its quarter-final bouts, with “The Last Emperor” Fedor Emelianenko (31-2) facing “Bigfoot” Antonio Silva (13-2) and “The Pitbull” Andrei Arlovski (14-8) clashing with Sergei Kharitonov (16-4) in the main and co-main event, respectively. While those fights involve the Strikeforce “elite eight” heavyweights, Saturday night’s card also hosts a pair of reserve bouts for the promotion’s tourney, including Shane del Rosario (8-0) squaring off with “Big” Lavar Johnson (13-3), “The Python” Valentijn Overeem (26-21) taking on fellow striker and former K-1 kickboxer “Sugarfoot” Ray Sefo (2-1), and “The Grave Digger” Chad Griggs (8-1) teeing off against Strikeforce newcomer Gian Villante (7-1). Villante is a veteran of Ring of Combat, having competed there in all of his professional fights and currently representing them as their World Heavyweight Champion. Gian was an All-American football player at Hofstra University and was one of the last men cut from the New York Jets’ roster. After being dismissed by the NFL, he turned to MMA. For Griggs, he made a name for himself on the big stage by beating Bobby Lashley (5-1) via TKO in the third round of their August clash. Both Griggs and Villante prefer to keep the fight standing, and each has earned the majority of his wins via TKO or KO. How will this battle between two strikers play out? Lets take a look.
Tomorrow night the UFC brings its live audience at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada and the millions watching worldwide on Pay-Per-View one of the most stacked cards in UFC history with UFC 126: Silva vs. Belfort. The event showcases a wealth of electrifying match-ups including former WEC warriors “Cowboy” Donald Cerrone (12-4) and Miguel Torres (37-3) gracing the UFC Octagon for the very first time and taking on British slugger Paul Kelly (11-3) and Antonio Banuelos (18-6), rising stars “Bones” Jon Jones (11-1) and “Darth” Ryan Bader (12-0) in a light heavyweight clash, NCAA wrestling coach “The Juggernaut” Jake Ellenberger facing dangerous submission expert Carlos Eduardo Rocha (9-0), and two former champions battling it out for light heavyweight supremacy following an inactive 2010 with Forrest Griffin (17-6) and “Ace” Rich Franklin (27-5). The highly anticipated main event pits UFC Middleweight Champion and arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world “The Spider” Anderson Silva (27-4) against deadly striker “The Phenom” Vitor Belfort. Anderson has been not only invincible in the UFC, but damn near untouchable. The lone hiccup in his UFC career came when he was controlled for nearly five rounds by Chael Sonnen (24-11) at UFC 117 but turned the tables and finished his opponent in the closing minutes with a Triangle Choke. Anderson Silva is riding a thirteen fight win streak including a flawless 12-0 record inside the UFC, and tomorrow night will make his record breaking eighth title defense. Vitor Belfort on the other hand more or less earned his title shot with one recent win inside the UFC over Rich Franklin at a catch-weight. He has however won five in a row, but is very middling (7-5) in his past twelve fights, compared to a perfect dozen victories that Anderson Silva has put up. Come the conclusion of UFC 126 tomorrow night, either Anderson Silva walks out of the cage with the middleweight title belt rightfully cinched around his waist for the ninth consecutive time, leaving any questions about his skill and dedication answered, or the world’s most recognizable UFC champion will have fallen and given way to a new era in the 185lbs. division with the vicious striker Vitor Belfort as its reigning king.
Tomorrow night the UFC brings its fans an astounding night of mixed martial arts action with UFC 126: Silva vs. Belfort. The stacked card features former WEC fighter “Cowboy” Donald Cerrone (12-4) taking on British slugger Paul Kelly (11-3), submission expert Miguel Torres (37-3) making his UFC debut against fellow former WEC bantamweight Antonio Banuelos (18-6), top contenders “Darth” Ryan Bader (12-0) and “Bones” Jon Jones (11-1) in a light heavyweight tilt, International Fight League (IFL) and BodogFIGHT veteran Jake Ellenberger (22-5) squaring off against Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Carlos Eduardo Rocha (9-0), and in the main event, “The Spider” Anderson Silva (27-4) makes a record breaking eighth title defense, this time against dangerous striker “The Phenom” Vitor Belfort (19-8). One of the more thought-provoking fights on this card though is a light heavyweight clash between two former champions: Forrest Griffin (17-6) and “Ace” Rich Franklin (27-5). Griffin and Franklin are two very capable fighters that also happen to be two of the most popular fighters on the UFC’s roster – they’re also incredibly evenly matched, thus making it difficult to predetermine the ultimate outcome of this main card bout. Let’s have a crack at it.
Superbowl Sunday is undoubtedly one of the biggest sports day of the year, and to conclude the NFL 2010-2011 season the Pittsburgh Steelers will meet the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, February 6 in Dallas, Texas. However, on the eve of the big game, the UFC will be hosting one of the biggest mixed martial arts shows of the year live from its hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada in the form of UFC 126: Silva vs. Belfort. The event is considered to boast the most stacked card since UFC 100, with former WEC bad boy “Cowboy” Donald Cerrone (12-4) facing Wolfslair Academy graduate Paul Kelly (11-3), fan favorite Miguel Torres (37-3) making his UFC debut against fellow former WEC bantamweight Antonio Banuelos (18-6), a collision between former champions with Forrest Griffin (17-6) facing “Ace” Rich Franklin (27-5), and in the main event, top-ranked pound-for-pound fighter in the world and current UFC Middleweight Champion “The Spider” Anderson Silva (27-4) defending his belt for a record eighth time against dangerous striker “The Phenom” Vitor Belfort (19-8). Another bout on this star studded fight card features a match-up between arguably two of the premier young light heavyweights in the world, when Jackson’s Submission Fighting trained “Bones” Jon Jones (11-1) meets undefeated The Ultimate Fighter 10 alum “Darth” Ryan Bader (12-0). The lone blemish on Jones’ record came via disqualification due to some illegal elbows in a fight he was dominating against “The Hammer” Matt Hamill (9-2). The winner of this fight will most certainly be considered a top five light heavyweight in the UFC, if not the world.
Strikeforce returned to Showtime last night with its “Diaz vs. Cyborg” card, broadcasting live from its headquarters city of San Jose, California at the HP Pavilion for an explosive evening of fights. Up for grabs were both the welterweight and middleweight titles, as well as Roger Gracie of the highly regarded Gracie family (4-0) attempting to stay undefeated in a clash with Muay Thai kickboxer Trevor Prangley (22-7) and crossover superstar Herschel Walker (2-0) taking on Scott Carson (4-2). The crowd was primed and ready to go crazy, and with the event that included exciting finishes and all-out-wars, Strikeforce surely did not disappoint with its latest effort. Here’s how the fights turned out.
“OSP” Ovince St. Preux (9-4) has been on quite a roll lately. He’s fought a half-dozen times in the past 12 months, winning all six of those fights – four of which were under the Strikeforce banner. Three of those four Strikeforce match-ups took place in just the seven weeks between mid-November 2010 and early January 2011 when he defeated very tough competition in “The Juggernaut” Antwain Britt (12-5), “The Razor” Benji Radach (19-6,) and “Abongo” Ron Humphrey (6-2). All in all Ovince is a perfect (4-0) inside the Strikeforce cage.
Tomorrow night in Fort Hood, Texas, the UFC hosts its second Fight for the Troops event to benefit the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. The night’s action includes performances from some of the UFC’s most exciting fighters including the sharp-tongued “The Young Assassin” Melvin Guillard (25-8-2), top lightweight prospect Evan Dunham (10-1), The Ultimate Fighter 8 alum George Roop (11-5), kickboxer “The Machine” Mark Hominick (18-7), American Top Team stand-out “Magrinho” Cole Miller (17-4), “Handsome” Matt Wiman (12-5), fan favorite “Hype or Die” Pat Barry (4-3), and boxer “The Mexicutioner” Joey Beltran (10-3). Also on the main card is a heavy-duty battle between The Ultimate Fighter Season 10 alum “Meathead” Matt Mitrione (3-0) and King of the Cage veteran “The Thrashing Machine” Tim Hague (10-4). Mitrione has won all three fights in his short UFC career starting with a knockout over fellow TUF 10 competitor “Big Baby” Marcus Jones (4-2), then deflating the hot air from “Kimbo Slice” Kevin Ferguson (4-2) then Joey Beltran at UFC 119. Tim Hague has fought four times under the UFC banner going 1-3 with his lone win coming over Pat Barry and his three losses coming by the hands of Joey Beltran, Todd Duffee (5-1) and Chris Tuchscherer (16-3). The bout is an important crossroads for both men, as a loss would likely cost Hague his place in the UFC and a win would send Mitrione into the fringes of the title picture.
This Saturday night The Ultimate Fighter 8 alum and WEC veteran George Roop (11-5-1) will face “The Machine” Mark Hominick (18-7) in a main card featherweight clash at UFC Fight for the Troops 2. The event also features “Handsome” Matt Wiman (12-5) taking on American Top Team stand-out “Magrinho” Cole Miller (17-4), a heavyweight tilt between fan favorite “Hype or Die” Pat Barry (4-3) and “The Mexicutioner” Joey Beltran (10-3), TUF 10 alum “Meathead” Matt Mitrione (3-0) facing “The Thrashing Machine” Tim Hague (10-4), and top lightweight Evan Dunham (10-1) versus “The Young Assassin” Melvin Guillard (25-8-2). Mark Hominick originally was slated to challenge WEC Featherweight Champion turned UFC featherweight champ “Junior” Jose Aldo (18-1) in his first UFC title defense at UFC 125 on New Year’s Day but an injury forced Aldo from the card. Now, Roop steps in for a fight Hominick can’t afford to lose. Following his stint on The Ultimate Fighter, Roop went 1-2 in the UFC and was consequently dropped by the organization. He went on to earn a win in a regional promotion then signed with the WEC 15 months after receiving his UFC pink slip. There, Roop found himself down a weight class, at featherweight, where he’s gone 1-1-1 including a second round head kick KO victory of “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung (10-3). Mark Hominick has also had a run in the UFC previously, going 2-0 before dropping down from lightweight to featherweight and currently rides a four fight winning streak coming into his main card tilt with George Roop. The match has serious implications for both fighters, as a loss could easily result in being dropped from Zuffa’s roster once again.
Strikeforce lugged its cage across the country, landing in Nashville, Tennessee for what looked on paper to be one of their superior “Challenger Series” events in Strikeforce Challengers 13. The card was headlined by a star making match-up at welterweight where “T-Wood” Tyron Woodley (10-0) met “The Sponge” Tarec Saffiedine (9-2) in what looked to be a fantastic collision of up -and-coming stars. Add to that fight its supporting acts on the main card in Rhadi Ferguson (3-0) against John Richards (3-2), Daniel Cormier (5-0) facing Devin Cole (13-9-1) and “Abongo” Ron Humphrey (6-3) meeting with “OSP” Ovince Saint Preux (9-4), not to mention the exciting Amanda Nunes (4-1) taking on “The Jewel” Julia Budd (2-1), and it was lights, camera and heaps of action in the Strikeforce cage. Here’s how the fights played out.
Stuck at home tonight with no exciting plans? Think again!
Tonight at 11pm ET/PT, Strikeforce and Showtime MMA brings its fans Strikeforce Challengers 13 from the Nashville Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. The electrifying evening of fights is headlined by Tyron Woodley (9-0) facing Team Quest standout Tarrec Saffiedine (9-1). This fight should be tremendously exciting as Tarrec Saffiedine utilizes a unique stand-up style that has resulted in a three fight win streak going into this bout. Woodley has looked phenomenal since debuting with Strikeforce. He’s a perfect nine wins against zero losses with six of those wins inside the Strikeforce cage. Woodley made Andre Galvao (5-2) look very ordinary in their October showdown in San Jose, California, even knocking him out only 1:48 into the first stanza. This will unquestionably be the biggest test for Tyron; in fact, it is well within reason to say that Tarec Saffiedine could pull the upset and get the win. Either way, the winner of this fight makes some noise in the welterweight division.
“The Last Emperor” Fedor Emelianenko (31-2) has been on the sidelines ever since his shocking first round submission defeat at the hands of Fabricio Werdum (14-4-1) in June. Fans have been enthusiastically anticipating his return to action, but before that could happen, he had to reach a new agreement with the San Jose, California promotion that he has called home for over a year. Yesterday, that deal was signed, and Fedor will fight at least four more times under the Strikeforce/M-1 Global banner. The deal announced yesterday says M-1 and Strikeforce will co-promote events that Fedor will headline and Showtime, the American premium cable network, will broadcast.