Fedor Emelianenko is ready to return to the cage for the first time since losing to Brazilian submission ace Fabricio Werdum last summer. The Russian heavyweight phenom will face Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva in the opening round of Strikeforce's upcoming heavyweight tournament on February 12th. Emelianenko recently noted during a media conference call that he is focused on the fight, and that he has not changed anything after the loss to Werdum.
"Nothing has changed for me (since the loss)," said Fedor. "I train just as I've trained before. It just so happened that I had made an error in the previous fight so in training I have just worked on trying not to make that same mistake again. For me nothing has changed inside of me and I still have the same beliefs. I just want to train harder for the next fight."
The three-stage, single-elimination tournament comprised of eight of the world's top heavyweights will begin with two quarterfinal matches on the Feb. 12th card. The heavyweight tournament's opening round will feature match ups between Alistair Overeem and Fabricio Werdum, Emelianenko and Silva, Josh Barnett and Brett Rogers as well as Andrei Arlovski and Sergei Kharitonov.
"I feel very good about participating in this tournament," Fedor remarked. "I feel very proud to be part of the eight who have been chosen and I feel proud to be representing my country in the tournament. I'm training to win the tournament. I'm training hard and whatever happens after that is up to God but I'm training hard and I look forward to performing."
Emelianenko noted that he is ready for any of the heavyweights in the tournament, including Werdum.
"I'm ready and prepared to step into the cage against Fabricio (Werdum) at any time. It's something that I'd very much like to do. In regard to Antonio, he's a very tough opponent, a very dangerous opponent. We've never fought before so I'm very happy that we're getting the opportunity to fight. We've seen each other in locker rooms and he's always been very cordial and a nice person. He's very qualified and I think it's going to be a great fight. I really don't think that I should be fighting anyone else and I'm just going to fight whoever they want me to fight."
Silva and Emelianenko are will face off this February 12th at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Their fight, along with a match up between Andrei Arlovski and Sergei Kharitonov, will mark the opening round of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix.
By Raj Giri