Fedor Emelianenko vs Antonio Silva

This may be one of the most important fights of Fedor’s career and it has massive implications. A loss to Silva would be catastrophic for M1 and Strikeforce. Fedor is still one of the biggest draws in MMA and almost everyone wants to see him fight, whether you want him to win or lose. This will be the fight that will give us an indicator of where Fedor’s skills are at. There are an overwhelming number of fans that believe Fedor is on a downward spiral as a fighter and that perhaps age is finally catching up with him. On the flip side we have Fedor’s fans who wish dearly to see him regain his place among the best fighters in the world. I believe the Fabricio Werdum fight was definitely a mistake on Fedor’s part. Perhaps he finally became lackadaisical after being the most dominant force in MMA for the last seven or eight years, or maybe he really is declining. This fight will answer all the questions and it is my belief that Fedor will redeem himself in the opening round of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, and in stellar fashion. I predict a first round KO for ‘The Last Emperor’.

As for Bigfoot, well, this fight is really a chance for him to prove that he deserves to be considered a top 10 heavyweight, and a win over Fedor would certainly do that. His rise through the heavyweight ranks was halted somewhat by Fabricio Werdum, but we know that Silva has KO power and a deadly ground game, so it would be unfair to completely count him out. 

Alistair Overeem vs Fabricio Werdum

A very important fight for Strikeforce, as this is one of the first fights that have ever made sense in their heavyweight division. Finally, the champion is going to fight the true number one contender, and what a fight it will be.

Alistair Overeem is a fantastic fighter with a wealth of experience in MMA. But for many people, and myself included, he still has something to prove. We already know that Overeem has the ability to beat anyone at heavyweight, but he has yet to back it up against an elite fighter. Brett Rogers is the closest he’s come to beating a top heavyweight and even then his ranking at the time is constantly disputed. Reem has all the tools, he just needs a shiny nail to hit, and that nail has finally appeared in the form of Fabricio Werdum. A win over Werdum will be Overeem’s most high profile in the weightclass and will justify his position as the Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion. But what if Overeem loses? Then all the hype that has surrounded him for the last 2 years will have been for nothing and Dana White will be gifted another opportunity to say “I told ya so””. Fortunately, I highly doubt Overeem will make the same mistake Fedor did, and will likely dispatch of Vai Cavalo just as quickly as he has every other recent opponent.

Werdum is eager to be accepted as the best heavyweight in the world. It’s unfortunate that he has received so little praise for what he accomplished last summer. It was the greatest upset of all time and still he struggles to gain plaudits for it. A win over Overeem would have to deliver the respect he so obviously deserves. Can he do it? Yes, but it won’t be easy. First he’ll need to get the fight to the ground, and against the K1 champion the only way he’s likely to do that will be when he’s unconscious. Many fans argue that Werdum deserves to be ranked number one in the heavyweight division for beating the guy who was number one for years, so we’ll see if he can prove the doubters wrong this Spring.

Jon Jones vs Mauricio Rua

In six weeks Jon Jones will face the destiny that appears to have been carved for him since his first fight in the UFC. Jones is supposed to be a future legend of the sport and the light heavyweight division, but now we will see if he can deliver. Fans have been clamoring for this matchup for quite sometime. Although Jones had yet to face a top 10 light heavyweight until last saturday, he backed up all the talk by submitting Ryan Bader. Rashad Evans‘ injury was unfortunate but has now opened the window for a much more exciting, fan friendly fight. Some may feel that Jones is being fast tracked to the title. Maybe he is, but he is now proven against good opposition and has a lot of hype behind him, along with the fact that this matchup will sell a lot of PPVs. It’s defintely not just there on a plate for him, first he’ll have to get past one of the greatest light heavyweights the sport has ever seen: Shogun Rua. There’s a lot of expectation on the shoulders of the young Greg Jackson apprentice but so far he’s looked calm and focused in all of his fights. Jones is undeniably talented and such a huge win so early on in the 23 year old’s career would certainly spell omens of great things to come from him in the future.

On the other side we have Shogun, a pound-for-pound contender and one of the most talented fighters ever. There are even some parallels that can be drawn to him and Jones: they were both slated as huge prospects early on, showcased tremendous talent at an early age and both were given the opportunity to be a champion at the tender fighting age of 23. So far the only difference is that Shogun seized his chance and became Pride Middleweight Grand Prix Champ. This fight will show if ‘Bones’ can achieve similar greatness early on. Shogun has had a rough time in recent years, between injuries and ending up on the wrong side of decisions. This fight will give him the opportunity to begin anew with a fresh slate and get his title reign underway with what could be an impressive win over an equally impressive contender. i believe Shogun will expose the untested chin of Jones and win via TKO. 

Georges St Pierre vs Jake Shields 

Two extremely accomplished fighters are about to lock horns. It’s already been labelled a snoozefest, but the same was said prior to the Edgar vs Maynard fight, the very fight which is now a fight of the year candidate. GSP has defended his title on 5 occasions now and a win here will help him break Hughes’ record and make him the most dominant welterweight of all time in my books. More importantly is what could happen after this fight. If GSP beats Shields he will be one step away from achieving MMA godliness in a super fight with current pound-for-pound hotshot and still undefeated in the UFC, Anderson Silva. That fight has the potential to go down as the biggest ever. But let’s not count our chickens before they hatch, as ‘Rush’ still has the large matter of a Cesar-Gracie student to attend to, and he’ll be more than happy to spoil the GSP party.

Shields is one of the best grapplers in the sport. He’d have to be, having won fifteen fights in a row with little or no striking. While his credentials paint a pretty picture, his debut in the UFC was far from eye candy. Shields struggled greatly against Martin Kampmann and just managed to edge out a decision (and a controversial one at that). So immediately he has a lot to prove to UFC fans. GSP will easily be his toughest challenge to date and presents a unique challenge with regards to wrestling. Shields has always been able to get the fight to the ground where he can either pound out a decision or use his unique American Jiu Jitsu style to catch a submission. However he has never come up against a fighter with wrestling like GSP, who I’d warrant is capable of stuffing Jake’s trademark single leg.

GSP has something very important to prove in this fight: his finishing ability. There’s been no shortage of criticism of GSP’s safety-first approach to fights and he freely admits that it is starting to bug him. He wanted to knock Josh Koscheck out but instead reserved himself to a lethal display of jabs that had Koscheck’s eye swollen to the size of an apple. I believe he is getting anxious about this inability to knock his opponents out and may go for broke in this fight if he sees an opening. If GSP can’t KO or TKO Shields, a fighter who has always been at a disadvantage on the feet, it won’t bode well for his chances against lethal muay-thai machine Anderson Silva. That said, I believe this fight will look a lot like his last and he will make Shields pay for his lack of well roundedness as a mixed martail artist. TKO for GSP and roll on the superfight.