Well, it looks like the wait for return of “The Last Emperor” is finally over. Sherdog reported first this evening, that Fedor Emelianenko and Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva will meet at Strikeforce’s February 12th event, as a part of promotion’s rumored eight-man Heavyweight Tournament. Here’s the report:
Fedor Emelianenko will return to the Strikeforce cage on Feb. 12, as he takes on Antonio Silva in a heavyweight main event from the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J. Sources close to the negotiations informed Sherdog.com Sunday evening of the event’s date and location.
A match between former UFC heavyweight champions Andrei Arlovski and Josh Barnett is also said to be in the works for the February date.
Meanwhile, Mike Chiappetta of MMAFighting.com reports that the fight is yet to be signed, but there’s definitely something to hope for:
A source in Emelianenko’s camp told MMA Fighting that it was likely that Emelianenko’s participation on the card would require that the deal be done by the end of this week, and that the two sides had several outstanding issues to deal with.
A source in Silva’s camp said he has already agreed to face Emelianenko.
Strikeforce director of communications Mike Afromowitz said simply, “Nothing confirmed yet.”
In his last fight, Antonio Silva defeated Mike Kyle via an impressive second round KO at Strikeforce: Henderson vs. Babalu II event on Dec. 4th. Silva’s last defeat was against Fabricio Werdum (Unanimous Decision), a man who did the unbelievable by submitting Fedor Emelianenko after just 69 seconds. Fabricio Werdum was Fedor’s only fight in 2010.
Here’s the official statement from Strikeforce (via MixFight.ru):
NEW YORK (Jan. 4, 2011) – World championship Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) promotions STRIKEFORCE and M-1 GLOBAL, in association with premium television network SHOWTIME have signed a new, multi-year agreement to co-promote events headlined by the MMA legend Fedor “The Last Emperor” Emelianenko (31-2, 1 NC).
In addition, STRIKEFORCE has assembled eight of the world’s top ranked heavyweights to compete in the STRIKEFORCE World Grand Prix – Heavyweight Tournament, a three-stage, single-elimination tournament that will take place over several events in 2011. The first two quarterfinal fights begin on Saturday, Feb. 12, live on SHOWTIME from the IZOD Center in E. Rutherford, N.J. In the main event, the 34-year-old Emelianenko will face the towering Antonio “Big Foot” Silva (15-2) in a STRIKEFORCE and M-1 GLOBAL co-promoted event. Co-featured on Feb. 12, former world champion Andrei Arlovski (15-8) will face Sergei Kharitonov (16-4), the last man to defeat current STRIKEFORCE Heavyweight World Champion Alistair “The Demolition Man” Overeem.
“We are thrilled to have come to a long-term agreement with Fedor and M-1 GLOBAL,” said STRIKEFORCE CEO Scott Coker. “To have the greatest MMA fighter of all-time put his legacy on the line in a single-elimination tournament will truly captivate MMA fans worldwide. STRIKEFORCE is home to the best heavyweight division in the world; the athlete who runs the gauntlet in a tournament such as this would have to be considered the best heavyweight fighter in the world.”
“I’m very pleased to be working with SHOWTIME and STRIKEFORCE and Mr. Coker and Mr. Hershman personally. Thanks to their interest and efforts, we’ve created what will go down in history as MMA’s greatest heavyweight tournament of all time,” said Vadim Finkelchtein, co-founder of M-1 Global. “M-1, STRIKEFORCE and SHOWTIME have built a partnership committed to the future growth of MMA—a sport where organizations represent a working collaborative that enable the best fighters in the world to fight each other. This agreement benefits everyone, especially the fans who’ll see Fedor in action more often.
“I can’t think of a better way to start 2011 than with this major announcement,” said Ken Hershman, Executive Vice President and General Manager of SHOWTIME Sports®. “Fedor is universally known to sports fans throughout the world and it is an honor to continue our work with M-1 GLOBAL and STRIKEFORCE in presenting this legendary fighter to SHOWTIME subscribers.
“I have been training very hard since my last fight and can’t wait to get back in the cage,” said the 6-foot, 235-pound Emelianenko, who hails from Stary Oskol, Russia and is promoted by M-1 GLOBAL. “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.”