Fedor Emelianenko Returns to Action as Part of Strikeforce World Grand Prix Heavyweight Tournament
Fedor “The Last Emperor” Emelianenko (31-2, 1 NC), considered by many the greatest heavyweight mixed martial artist in the sport’s history, returns to action on Feb. 12, 2011 at the IZOD Center, in E. Rutherford, N.J. The announcement comes following a multi-year agreement between Strikeforce, Showtime, and M-1 Global to co-promote events headlined by Fedor.
His opponent in the main event of the evening will be Antonio “Big Foot” Silva (15-2), and the bout will serve as one of the four quarterfinal pairings in a Strikeforce World Grand Prix Heavyweight Tournament.
The co-main event of the evening featuring former world champion Andrei Arlovski (15-8) and Sergei Khartinov (16-4) serves as another tournament quarterfinal bout. Kharitnov is the last fighter to defeat current Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion Alistair “The Demolition Man” Overeem. The event on Feb. 12, 2011 is co-promoted by Strikeforce and M-1 Global, and the main-card will be featured live on Showtime.
The remaining two quarterfinal bouts of the Strikeforce World Grand Prix Heavyweight tournament pair up Overeem (34-11, 1 NC) against the last man to defeat Fedor, Jiu-Jitsu ace Fabricio Werdum (14-4-1), and knockout artist Brett “The Grim” Rogers (11-2) against Josh Barnett (29-5). It has not yet been announced when these two quarterfinal bouts will take place.
The tournament consists of a three-stage, single-elimination process that will take place over several events in 2011, and features eight of the world’s top heavyweight fighters.
Ken Hershman, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Showtime Sports said, “With the breadth of talent in the Strikeforce heavyweight division, we have the privilege of staging one of the biggest tournaments in the history of this growing sport. With the Strikeforce World Grand Prix’s single-elimination format and the biggest names in the sport today, this tournament is something that no sports fan will want to miss.”
It is yet to be announced if the quarterfinal match-up between Werdum and Overeem will be for the Strikeforce Heavyweight Championship, even though following his victory over Fedor, Werdum was the likely number one heavyweight contender. The first-round match-up also prevents the possibility of Fedor both avenging his loss to Werdum, and facing behemoth Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem in the same tournament. However, if Fedor wins, he will face the winner of this fight as they are on the same side of the tournament bracket.
Before his stunning opening round submission loss to Werdum via triangle armbar at the 1:09 mark, Emelianenko’s only defeat was by doctor stoppage due to a cut on Dec. 22, 2000 against Tsuyoshi Kosaka. He had a record-setting 28-fight win streak prior to his defeat, including victories over mixed martial arts legends such as Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, Andrei Arlovski and Mark “The Hammer” Coleman. Fedor also avenged his loss to Kosaka via first-round TKO on April 3, 2005. His incredible streak earned him the respect of many as the greatest mixed martial artist of all time.
The 6-foot, 235-pound Emelianenko, who hails from Stary Oskol, Russia, said “I have been training very hard since my last fight and can’t wait to get back in the cage. Strikeforce has assembled a roster filled with the best heavyweights in the world and, together with M-1 Global, we have the opportunity to fight the best in a great tournament format.”
PHOTO CREDIT: Esther Lin/STRIKEFORCE