Lost in the Overeem-Fedor hype the emanated from Strikeforce: Heavy Artillery was the incredible performance of Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva. Almost by accident, I've watched a lot of Silva's fights. I have a bunch of Elite XC dvds I bought to catch up when I started watching MMA, caught his Sengoku fights on HDNet, and now his fights in Strikeforce. He's a completely different fighter than the one that defeated Cabbage Corriera. But until yesterday, his biggest win was against Justin Eilers. Silva, perhaps more than any other fighter, has taken to Strikeforce as used it as a way to build himself up. Thought some may argue that Arlovski is shot, I don't. He looked good against Fedor - very good in fact - until his flying knee. Arlovski's lost to Brett Rogers can be excused by his continued infatuation with boxing and the fact he took the fight on short notice. The Arlovski that Silva fought was a focused fighter who trained both at AKA and at Jackson's. He put his time in and Silva made him look like an amateur. And Arlovski looked pretty good in this fight, he absorbed some serious punches and hung tough.
Bigfoot imposed his size, walked him down, and used a great jab. With that, I was impressed with his hand speed and tightness of his boxing, there were no wild swings but rather crisp striking mixed with enough leg kicks that had Arlovski completely flummoxed. Silva was able to show great defense and when it would come close, Silva was able impose his will by pushing him against the cage and work the clinch. Most importantly, he was the smartest guy in the cage and was patient. Arlovski is not a bad fighter, and he's super-tough. He's been through the wars and been to the very top of MMA.
Even if you look at his fight with Werdum, Silva looked good in defeat. People forget that before getting beaten by Junior Dos Santos, Werdum was considered one of the top UFC heavyweight challengers. In fact, many thought he deserved inclusion in the "tournament" that the UFC set up with Noguiera, Mir, Lesnar, and Couture back in 2008. Werdum, it can be argued, has top 5 talent and Silva did well.
So it seems Strikeforce has fallen into something with Bigfoot. An afterthought in Strikeforce, an outcast in Sengoku, Antonio Silva looks to become a true MMA star in Strikeforce. He's got more to prove, but Strikeforce has a better-than-decent heavyweight division with Fedor, Overeem, Rogers, Werdum, Arlovski and young guns coming up like Lavar Johnson, Shane Del Rosario, and Bobby Lashley. I suspect that Silva can look for Rogers next, but I'm not sure if its smart to possibly give Rogers another loss and ruin a home-grown star. It will be interesting to see if maybe Strikeforce looks to bring in someone like Jeff Monson or Josh Barnett so Strikeforce doesn't cannibalize there growing stable of burgeoning heavyweight contenders.
So do you all think Silva can become a top heavyweight?