Strikeforce: Antonio Silva Dominates Fedor Emelianenko
By Matthew DeGonzaque, Doghouse Boxing (Feb 25, 2011)
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The best way to sum up this card: the end of an era. The man who defined an era in heavyweight mixed martial arts was defeated. It wasn't a cut from an illegal headbutt and it wasn't from a quick submission, it was a beat down from beginning to end by an opponent that on fight night was superior to Fedor Emelianenko in every way.

It was the opening round of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Tournament, a tournament that the Emelianenko was expected to go onto conquer. Instead history was made on February 12, 2011 as massive underdog Antonio Silva came out and defeated former Pride Heavyweight Champion Fedor Emelianenko in the first round.

The first round opened with both men trading strikes with one another. Fedor was having difficulties dealing with Silva's eight inch reach advantage. It was a close round, with Fedor managing to land shots while in Silva's half guard when the fight briefly when to the ground, but the round went to Silva who landed the better strikes and was able to bully Fedor in the clinch during the round and take him down at the end of the round.

Fedor has struggled with larger opponents in the past, but unlike previous Fedor fights, there would be no spectacular Fedor comeback to win the fight.

The second round started and Silva was all over Fedor. Silva took Fedor down at the beginning of the round and quickly mounted him. Fedor is one of the toughest grapplers in the sport and has an excellent ground especially off of his back. But on this night, Fedor looked like a grappling novice as Silva mounted him with ease and pounded on Fedor for the entire round. The only thing Fedor could do is roll onto his stomach were Silva would either continue to beat on him or attempt to choke him out. This lasted the entire round. The beating was so bad that Fedor's right eye was swollen completely shut.

The fight was stopped after the second round due to Fedor's eye. Antonio Silva improves to 16-2 while Fedor Emelianenko falls to 31-3 w/1 NC.

For once, Fedor wasn't able to rally after a beating and comeback to win the fight. Forgot all of Strikeforce and M1's spin about how we don't know what would have happened had Fedor been allowed to come out of the third round. The argument is completely ridiculous and if you give credence to that, then you can use that to take away the relevance of any victory. If you can't see, then you can't fight. Fedor had his chance to win the fight and he lost. Antonio Silva wins and is the first fighter to truly beat down Fedor.

The post fight interview, Fedor hinted that this could be the last time he steps into the cage. Yet after the event what he said was dismissed by Strikeforce officials and Fedor's management team, all who argued that Fedor would be back in the cage again. Strikeforce owner, Scott Coker even tried to sell the idea of Fedor returning in the heavyweight tournament as an alternate.

It sounds like it could all get very sad before its set and done. If Fedor's interested in retiring then let him retire, from his interview's it clearly sounds like he may be ready to move on. The problem is that there are still too many people dependent on Fedor for a living. A few days after the event, Fedor came out and said that he would return again. The people involved with Fedor are going to get everything they can out of 'The Last Emperor', especially M1Global, who are completely irrelevant without Fedor.

Fedor can still win fights if he is matched up properly. But watching the best heavyweight MMA has ever seen settle for being a gate keeper in Strikeforce would be disappointing. He could walk away from the sport now with his head held high, instead of sticking around and embarrassing himself like Tito Ortiz, Ken Shamrock, Jens Pulver and so many other fighters who have stayed in the sport for too long.

For Antonio Silva, this is the biggest victory of his career and opens the tournament up. Fedor was the consensus favorite to win the entire tournament and Silva dominated him in the first round. I've still got Alistair Overeem as the favorite, but you can't count Silva out. Not after this victory. Silva will now wait on his next opponent, the winner of Overeem-Werdum II.

In the other heavyweight tournament bout on the card, Pride veteran Sergei Kharitonov knocked out former UFC Heavyweight Champion Andrei Arlovski in the first round. As expected, the battle was fought on the feet with Kharitonov walking down Arlovski. Arlovski kept allowing Kharitonov to press him against the cage where Arlovski has no room to move around and Kharitonov can land big shots. Arlovski allowed himself to be backed up into the cage over and over again. Mid way through the first round he was against the cage and Kharitonov landed a brutal combination of hooks and uppercuts on Arlovski. Arlovski tried to move away, but he was caught with a right hook that dropped the UFC veteran. From there, Kharitonov pounced on 'The Pitbull' and knocked him out on the ground. Sergei Kharitonov improves to 18-4 while Andrei Arlovski falls to 15-9.

It was the same story for Arlovski. Arlovski comes out looking to box, inevitably gets tagged with a big punch and goes down. If there is anyone on this card who should retire its Arlovski. He just doesn't have the chin to compete at the top level of the sport. He has lost his last four fights in a row, three of which were by knockout. He has been defeated nine times, seven of those losses are by knockout. That's a lot of knockout losses, who knows how that could affect Arlovski later on in his life. Arlovski is at the point in his career were he can't even take a clean punch without his knees buckling. Its time for Arlovski to walk away from the sport. He doesn't need to fight anymore and continuing on only endangers his health even more. Of course, Arlovski has already announced that he isn't going to retire.

Kharitonov was probably the biggest underdog in the tournament. Since Pride shut down, he has spent the last few years off the radar as a fighter; only fighting once a year since 2007 in Japan for DREAM and K1. Kharitonov is a sleeper in the tournament and he already has wins over two fighters in the tournament; Fabricio Werdum and Alistair Overeem (who also a knockout win over Kharitonov). I could see him defeating the Barnett-Rogers winner in the next round and making it to the finals and getting the big fight that he has never gotten before.

It was a night of upsets as Silva and Kharitonov continue onto the next round in the heavyweight grand prix while two veterans in Fedor and Arlovski have to stop and think about whether or not it is really in their best interest to continue on in this sport.

On the undercard:

-Shane Del Rosario (7-1) defeated Lavar Johnson (15-4) by first round submission

-Chad Griggs (10-1) defeated Gianpiero Villante (7-2) by first round TKO

-Valentijn Overeem (29-25) defeated Ray Sefo (2-1) by first round submission

The next Strikeforce event is March 5th where Dan Henderson will challenge Rafael Cavalcante for the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Championship.



Questions or comments,
e-mail
Matthew at: mdegonzaque@hotmail.com

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