Cain Velasquez, Fedor Emelianenko and the Strikeforce Heavyweight TournamentPosted on January 5, 2011, 05:27 AM by Anton Gurevich
Strikeforce's announcement of an upcoming Heavyweight Grand Prix was probably one of the most, if not the most important decisions made by Scott Coker as a CEO of the promotion. Many people critiqued Strikeforce for not being able to put fights together, but here they come, announcing four exciting match-ups, which will surely keep the fans intrigued for the rest of the year.
More than this, the timing is nothing but perfect. UFC Heavyweight division is completely stuck now due to an injury of Cain Velasquez, who will be out of action between 6 to 8 months. Velasquez was supposed to defend his title against Junior dos Santos in Toronto on April 30th. But as for now, this fight is nowhere in sight, making the winner of Strikeforce's Heavyweight Grand Prix a serious contender for #1 spot in Heavyweight rankings.
Still, UFC hold an upper hand when it comes to marketing their events and promoting their fights. Cain Velasquez's stocks are still high, especially after defeating Brock Lesnar in such an impressive fashion. Emelianenko's defeat against Werdum and the uncertainty around who will be his next opponent damaged to his image, which he will surely look to reconstruct in a fight against the credible "Bigfoot" Silva.
Strikeforce made a wise move by putting up Fedor, Werdum, Overeem and Antonio Silva on the same side of the bracket. First match-ups between Fedor-Silva and Overeem-Werdum are very intriguing, not speaking about what will happen if Fedor faces Overeem/Werdum, or if Antonio Silva manages to shock the World and gets through to fight the winner of Overeem/Werdum. This way or another, it's a win-win situation for Strikeforce.
The other side of the bracket has less star power, but definitely works well for Strikeforce in terms of building their Heavyweight division. Personally, I would prefer to see Barnett fighting Arlovski and Kharitonov against Rogers, but the current order is still a great way to get a credible contender for the final.
In conclusion, Strikeforce Heavyweight Tournament will surely deliver a lot of excitement for MMA calendar in 2011. Last high caliber Heavyweight Grand Prix was in PRIDE, six years ago back in 2004. Fedor won that tournament with a victory over Minotauro Nogueira in the final. We'll see if "The Last Emperor" manages to win this one as well.