Strikeforce’s “Fedor vs. Silva”: The Bigger They Come, The Harder They Fall

Sunday, February 13, 2011

By Jim Genia; photos courtesy Anil Melwani

(February 12th, Meadowlands, N.J.)  As the adage goes, “the bigger they come, the harder they fall”, and no where was that more true than in the opening installment of Strikeforce’s heavyweight tournament.  Before a very sizeable crowd packed into the IZOD Center, legendary fighter Fedor Emelianenko – whose relatively small size belied his status as MMA behemoth – fell prey to the fists and jiu-jitsu of Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, while former UFC champ Andrei Arlovski did his best to out-box Pride vet Sergei Kharitonov and wound up utterly starched on the canvas.  They were big fighters, and boy did they fall hard. (Pictured: Fedor (left) and Silva reacting to the stoppage)

For the Last Emperor, it was simply a matter of being stuck on the bottom – a fate he managed to avoid in the opening stanza of his bout with his ability to stand and bang then move deftly away.  But Bigfoot wasted no time getting Fedor down in Round 2, and for the duration he battered the Russian relentlessly, only occasionally mixing in choke- and leglock attempts.  Fedor survived the round, but one look at his grotesquely-swollen eye was all the doctors needed to waive it off.  And with that, the event’s clear fan-favorite, and one of the top prospects of Strikeforce’s tournament, was done.
Silva working from mount
In the once-great Arlovski, fans got another dose of harsh reality.  Despite wielding his usual sharp technique and concise footwork, the “Pitbull” found himself stalked around the cage and forced into a gunfight with Kharitonov, with the slightly bigger Russian landing more and more.  Then, midway through the first round, it was over, and the Belarussian was left unconscious staring blankly up at the ceiling.

There are still two more match-ups left in the tournament’s opening round, with Josh Barnett taking on Brett Rogers and Alistair Overeem facing Fabricio Werdum at an as-yet-to-be determined location in April.  But for Fedor and Arlovski, it’s the end of the road (Fedor even mentioned retirement in his post-fight speech – a notion promoter Scott Coker dismissed at the presser).  Strikeforce’s “Fedor vs. Silva” gave us four of the biggest, and we watched two of them fall.

Other highlights of the night included:
  • The spirited battle between local stud Gian Villante and Chad Griggs, which saw both men stand and trade until one was standing no more.  With the TKO win, Griggs has secured his spot as a tournament alternate should the need for one arise.
  • Shane Del Rosario’s dominant performance over Lavar Johnson, which elevated his status at Strikeforce Challengers-staple and cemented his alternate spot as well.
  • The smooth moves of lightweight John Cholish.  From Northeast regional badass to the big stage, Cholish made the most of his preliminary bout, handling TUF veteran Marc Stevens on the ground and tapping him with a slick rolling kneebar.
Kharitonov (left) and Arlovski trading punches
Full Results

-Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva def. Fedor Emelianenko via Doctor Stoppage at 5:00, R2
-Sergei Kharitonov def. Andrei Arlovski via KO (punch) at 2:49, R1
-Shane Del Rosario def. Lavar Johnson via Armbar at 4:31, R1
-Chad Griggs def. Gian Villante via TKO (punches) at 2:49, R1
-Valentijn Overeem def. Ray Sefo via Neck Crank at 1:37, R1
-John Cholish def. Marc Stevens via Kneebar at 3:57, R2
-Igor Gracie def. John Salgado via Head/Arm Choke at 3:04, R2
-Sam Oropeza def. Don Carlo-Clauss via Tap Out due to strikes at 4:10, R1
-Josh LaBerge def. Anthony Leone via Doctor Stoppage at 5:00, R1
-Jason McLean def. Kevin Roddy via Unanimous Decision