“The Pitbull” Andrei Arlovski (14-9) is undoubtedly and by large considered one of the most skilled and dangerous heavyweight MMA fighters of all time. The 1st Razryad International Master in Sambo has seen a lot of glory in his 11-year mixed martial arts career, having been the Interim UFC Heavyweight Champion and later promoted to the undisputed UFC Heavyweight Champion, taking out some of the most formidable opponents in his weight class along the way. Some of those who have succumbed to Arlovski’s fighting prowess are “The Janitor” Vladimir Matyushenko (25-5), “Cabbage” Wesley Correira (19-15), “The Maine-Iac” Tim Sylvia (28-7), “The Executioner” Paul Buentello (28-13), “Vai Cavalo” Fabricio Werdum (14-4-1), “Irish” Jake O’Brien (13-3), “Big” Ben Rothwell (27-7), and “Big Country” Roy Nelson (15-5). “The Pitbull” has built an impressive legacy and all the while has maintained his status as a fan favorite.
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.
With UFC 126 in the books and another chapter in NFL Super Bowl history cemented, February is continuing to prove to be a hot month for sports. This time Strikeforce claims their stake in the heat of action with one of the most highly anticipated events when they kick off the Heavyweight Grand Prix. In the heavyweight reserve bouts, Muay Thai practitioners “The Python” Valentijn Overeem (26-21) and “Sugarfoot” Ray Sefo (2-1) begin the night, IFL veteran “The Grave Digger” Chad Griggs (8-1) and former NFL prospect Gian Villante (7-1) are paired together, and the undefeated Shane del Rosario (8-0) meets knockout artist “Big” Lavar Johnson (13-3). In the co-main event, former UFC Heavyweight Champion “The Pitbull” Andrei Arlovski (14-8) hopes to get back on the winning side of competition when he welcomes PRIDE veteran Sergei Kharitonov (16-4) to Strikeforce in the first round of the Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament. In the second quarter-final match and main event, “Bigfoot” Antonio Silva (14-2) takes on one of the most beloved fighters across the world, “The Last Emperor” Fedor Emelianenko (31-2). February might be the shortest month of the year, but with this latest showcase by Strikeforce, it is holding true that big things do come in small packages.