The American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas shall host the second installment of the inaugural Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix less than one week after its home team the Dallas Mavericks toppled bitter rivals the Miami Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals. This Saturday, June 18, the Strikeforce Heavyweight Tournament resumes after a three-month break to bring its heavy hitting champion face-to-face yet again with his former foe and to wrap up the last of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Quarter-Finals as well as bring some of its up-and-coming stars to the big stage. Strikeforce, DREAM and K-1 champion “The Demolition Man” Alistair Overeem (31-12) meets “Vai Cavalo” Fabricio Werdum (14-4) in a long awaited rematch that pits arguably the world’s best heavyweight striker against the world’s best heavyweight Jiu-Jitsu black belt. Former UFC Heavyweight Champion, PRIDE, and Sengoku stand-out “The Baby Faced Assassin” Josh Barnett (21-5) fights Chicago-born slugger ”The Grim” Brett Rogers (11-2) in the co-main event to determine which man moves on to the tournament semi-finals. The reemergence of “Conviction” Gina Carano (7-1), who was making her return to the cage against undefeated Sarah D’Alelio (3-0), has been pulled due to Carano not receiving medical clearance from her doctor and has been replaced by a previously scheduled prelim bout between former Elite XC Lightweight Champion KJ Noons (9-3) and “Gamebred” Jorge Masvidal (19-6). Opening up the main card though are a pair of tournament reservoir bouts with former UFC heavyweight title contender and American submission specialist “The Snowman” Jeff Monson (37-11) returning to the big leagues opposite the undefeated rising star Daniel Cormier (6-0), and IFL veteran and heavyweight dark horse “The Grave Digger” Chad Griggs (9-1) looking to continue his dominant win streak when he meets former PRIDE veteran and powerhouse “The Python” Valentijn Overeem (27-21). With the opportunity for either Griggs or Overeem to partake in one of Strikeforce’s most major events, both men have a lot to gain but even more to lose.
So, I’m moving this week. It sucks. I don’t own a lot of stuff but when you have to pack it up, you suddenly wish you were a monk…. Okay, maybe a monk with a really kick ass laptop but still. Anyway, I’m still writing my column just for you guys. I hope you appreciate it. I also won’t be able to attend to my normal MMA Gospel Radio show co-hosting duties this Wednesday but before you start weeping, relax – your buddy, your hero, yours truly has arranged for a very special treat for you in my absence. Filling in for me will be none other than the man who saved us from communism at WEC 53 and is so witty that he has been featured in UFC’s Tweets of the Week column for over four months running, UFC lightweight bad ass “Dannyboy” Downes! You’re welcome. I give and I give and I’m still as poor as a monk but with a lot more shit – as I believe I mentioned. So, enough of my whining… there are a lot of fights to get to. UFC Fight Night 24: Nogueira vs. Davis, Bellator 38, Titan Fighting Championship 17, and M-1 Global’s debut Challenge show on Showtime.
Bobby Lashley vs. John Ott: Lashley via Unanimous Decision (29-27, 30-27, 29-27)
Abe Wagner vs. Aaron Rosa: Rosa via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 2, 0:35
Phil Baroni vs. Nick Nolte: Baroni via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28)
Eric Marriott vs. William DeSouza: Marriott via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Aaron Derrow vs. Alonzo Martinez: Martinez via Majority Decision (28-28, 29-28, 29-28)
James Krause vs. Nathan Schut: Krause via TKO (Head Kick and Strikes), Round 1, 0:41
Anthony Gutierrez vs. Jon Hollis: Gutierrez via Submission (Triangle Choke), Round 1, 4:40
Saturday, February 12. The night was chilly as usual but even another freezing night could not damper my mood as I drove towards East Rutherford, New Jersey and the start of the unprecedented (in the US at least) Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament being put together by Strikeforce. With so much emphasis put on the UFC, fans really had to be surprised to see the wealth of heavyweight talent amassed for this tournament. That I was witnessing the launch of such an historic MMA event left me quite gleeful. Of course events that unfolded would show that for Strikeforce no good deed goes unpunished. But we’ll get to that.
As I drove toward Lot 26 which is designated for the press and employees I stopped to ask every parking attendant where the lot was located and was instructed to just keep driving. When I finally circled the entire IZOD Center and came to my designated lot I made an ill advised, on-the-fly decision to not stop by the parking person manning this lot and a few seconds later felt like Billy Hayes in Midnight Express as my car was surrounded by several guys who looked as if they were competing in the evening’s Strikeforce Heavyweight Tournament or at least a local tough man contest. After the some venting of steam by guys whose mood was not enhanced by the freezing temps, I was finally able to spit out my name and ultimately allowed to proceed and park. So began my first sojourn as a credentialed press dignitary. I almost ended up buried with Jimmy Hoffa and other luminaries in the nearby meadowland swamps courtesy of Mo and the guys.
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).
Strikeforce launched its World Heavyweight Grand Prix last night to the eager cheers of one of the largest crowds it has ever hosted. The night was filled with exciting barn burners including a main card that opened with four straight first round finishes and ended with what many are viewing as the biggest upset in modern MMA history. As a whole the card was an overwhelming success and did its job of hyping the casual fan base for the Strikeforce World Heavyweight Grand Prix magnificently. It brought all the ingredients of a fan pleasing MMA production to the table with big names against big underdogs, fast paced casual fan-friendly brawls, bouts which displayed that higher level of technical precision that awes the pundits, big finishes and even bigger upsets. However, it is not all wine and roses for the San Jose-based promotion. One of their biggest drawing fighters announced his potential retirement after being knocked out of the tournament along with another fan favorite, there were a few close calls from the referees that could have easily caused a controversy, and their commentary was even more painful than usual. There are always ups and downs with every fight, so to help sort them out MMA Gospel presents The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.
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.
Just four days from now – on Saturday, February 12, Strikeforce’s much anticipated inaugural Heavyweight Grand Prix kicks off from the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey with Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Silva. The event itself, named after its main event competitors, boasts an all-heavyweight main card including two quarter-final match-ups of the eight-man single elimination tournament.
The main attraction of the evening pits the legendary Russian Sambo and Judo Champion “The Last Emperor” Fedor Emelianenko (31-2), who is returning to the cage for the first time since his upset loss to Fabricio Werdum (14-4-1) last June, against the Brazilian behemoth and Karate, Judo, and BJJ black belt “Bigfoot” Antonio Silva (14-2), a bout that Silva has been requesting for almost a year now. The co-main event sees former UFC Heavyweight Champion “The Pitbull” Andrei Arlovski (14-8) return to the lime light in taking on the last man to defeat Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion (one of several titles he currently holds) “The Demolition Man” Alistair Overeem – former PRIDE superstar Sergei Kharitonov (16-4).
Strikeforce has been plagued by problems leading into what should be their true breakthrough card on December 4. Aside from the mishandling of PR resources, lack of marketing, and the long period of inactivity that typically affects the Strikeforce main promotion, the December 4 card headlined by “Hendo” Dan Henderson (25-8) and “Babalu” Renato Sobral (33-9) has been plagued by fighter injuries. As is par for the course, Strikeforce faces heavy counter-programming from the untouchable media juggernaut that is the UFC. This time, it’s in the form of the finale of The Ultimate Fighter Season 12, a card which carries an entire season’s worth of hype as well as the first appearance of bantamweights (135lbs.) and featherweights (145lbs.) in the UFC. Strikeforce was set to counter the UFC, at least amongst the extremely hardcore fans and the extremely casual fans, with a card featuring not only the majority of Strikeforce’s big name fighters, but also the casual fan ratings magnet former NFL Pro-bowler and SEC college football great Herschel Walker (1-0). Then it all began to fall apart.
Strikeforce strikes again, and I’m trapped inside a glass box of emotions on this one.
There were four fights on the main card of Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Werdum and none of them went to decision. This sounds like it could be a promising night for Strikeforce however the only issue is that the heavyweight division appears to be in a bit of disarray after a surprising outcome in the main event.
By now many of you already know the result of “The Last Emperor” Fedor Emilianenko (32-2) and Fabricio Werdum (14-4) which was a relatively quick submission for the underdog Werdum in round 1. One thing about this fight seemed a little odd to me. I don’t believe this fight was “fixed” in the sense that the majority of people may suspect it was however, I found it strange that an MMA veteran of 34 fights would go into the guard of a BJJ black belt for ground and pound with his head down. When they showed the replay I couldn’t believe what was happening in front of me. It’s not that I believe Fedor is untouchable or unbeatable, I just refuse to believe that he’s never heard of a triangle and doesn’t know how to defend one.
Shortly after the Main event ended quickly Dana white tweeted the following “:D”. I’m pretty sure I know why Dana is smiling, and furthermore how Strikeforce will keep the smile on Dana’s face.