Fedor Emelianenko squares off against Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva in the main event of Strikeforce's Saturday night event from East Rutherford, New Jersey. The bout is one of two quarterfinal fights on the event that kicks off the promotion's much talked about World Grand Prix heavyweight tournament. One big question leading into the event is this: how will Fedor bounce back from the first true defeat of his career against Fabricio Werdum this past June?
Well don't expect it to have too great of an effect. Fedor is a stone cold competitor that has rarely shown any type of legitimate mental weaknesses. Of course, suffering the first true loss of your career after ten long years of dominance has the power to affect anyone. So how will Fedor respond against Silva? Likely, the same way he has responded throughout his illustrious career: with pure disregard for anything but unleashing pure violence upon his opponent while in the cage.
Silva is a formidable opponent but his tendency to stand right in front of his opponents will cost him greatly against Emelianenko. Silva has mildly struggled with quicker strikers, most notably in recent bouts against Andrei Arlovski and Mike Kyle. That doesn't bode well for "Bigfoot" as he will almost positively lack the hand speed of Emelianenko.
In the Arlovski bout, Silva struggled in the beginning of the first round until the former UFC heavyweight champion failed to increase his movement. His opponent's lack of lateral footwork and shorter reach allowed Silva to eventually time his counters. Luckily for "Bigfoot", Arlovski failed to adjust allowing Silva to earn a unanimous decision victory.
Against Kyle, Silva was knocked down almost immediately by the much quicker fighter and it almost cost him the fight. Silva was able to fend off the attack when it hit the ground due to his size and grappling ability but Kyle almost made the heavyweight pay for standing directly in front of him.
Silva also lacked the killer instinct needed to put away Werdum after "Bigfoot" had the fellow Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt hurt early in the first round. Silva knocked Werdum down but he wasn't able to put him away. Silva allowed Werdum to get to his feet and recover. It ultimately cost him that fight. Werdum came back on the scorecards in the second and third rounds earning himself the victory via unanimous decision.
If "Bigfoot" finds any success against Fedor, it will likely be in the same manner that Emelianenko met his downfall against Werdum. After knocking Werdum down, Fedor immediately dropped down into Werdum's guard. While Fedor unleashed a fury of ground and pound, Werdum was able to slip on a triangle choke that even the pound-for-pound great couldn't slip out of. But while Silva holds the same BJJ black belt designation as Werdum, as the Kyle fight showed, Silva likely isn't as skilled off his back as his fellow Brazilian. Fedor will probably hold the advantage everywhere in this fight as long as he doesn't make the mistake he made against Werdum.
The second quarterfinal bout pits Arlovski against Sergei Kharitonov. Arlovski is coming off three straight losses, all of which came against participants in this heavyweight tournament. The loss to Emelianenko in an Affliction pay-per-view bout initiated the losing streak in 2009. Since then, the Belarusian fighter has suffered successive losses to Brett Rogers and to Silva. Kharitonov is coming off a December knockout win over Tatsuya Mizuno. But the 30-year old Russian has only competed three times since 2008. This bout will likely turn into a striking affair as both men are known for their vast interest in their boxing.