Strikeforce World Gran Prix 2011; Heavyweight Tournament Predictions
Strikeforce, the San Jose based mixed martial arts promotion and primary rival company of the UFC has recently announced a single-elimination, heavyweight tournament. Featuring such names as Fedor Emelianenko, Alistair Overeem, Fabricio Werdum and Josh Barnett, this tournament is the most star-studded HW grand-prix in North American history.
This tournament is a story of redemption for some, as Fedor Emelianenko and Andrei Arlovski attempt to get their careers back on track and avenge their recent losses, while others such as heavy-handed Alistair Overeem and Russian Sergei Kharitonov look to use this tournament as a way to propel themselves into stardom in the North-American MMA scene. The winner of the tournament will quickly find themselves being catapulted up the heavyweight rankings.
Quarter Final Bouts
Fedor Emelianenko v. Antonio “Big Foot” Silva
Fedor will have his hands full as he faces striker Antonio Silva in his highly anticipated return to mixed martial arts. Although Silva may appear to be the heavy underdog in the affair, Fedor has looked shaky at times in his recent fights, getting rocked on his feet versus Brett Rogers, and succumbing to a triangle choke against Werdum. That being said, Antonio Silva is going to want to keep this fight standing which will work to Emelianenko’s advantage as he is much quicker on his feet and has a granite chin, never being knocked out in any of his 34 professional fights. Look for Fedor to pick Silva apart on his feet before taking a dazed Antonio Silva to the ground and submitting him.
Alistair Overeem v. Fabricio Werdum
Alistair Overeem has been on a tear recently and is unbeaten in 10 straight fights dating way back to 2007. Overeem also demolished all his opponents en route to becoming the K-1 World Grand Prix 2010 champion earlier this year. Fabricio Werdum has been equally impressive, and is unbeaten in his first 3 fights since his UFC release. Werdum handled tough competitors Mike Kyle, Antonio Silva with ease before astonishing the MMA community by giving Fedor Emelianenko his first loss in a decade. While Werdum may have pulled off the incredible upset against Fedor, it seems unlikely for him to repeat this feat against Alistair. Overeem is typically known for his ridiculous knockout power, but he is also an accomplished grappler, winning the 2005 ADCC European Qualifiers, and has only been submitted once in his MMA career. If Fabricio is forced to stand with Alistair, the fight could be over very quickly for Werdum. I expect Alistair to finish Werdum via TKO in the first round.
Andrei Arlovski v. Sergei Kharitonov
Perhaps two of the biggest underdogs in this tournament face off as Arlovski, 0-3 in his last three fights, faces off against Sergei Kharitonov. Sergei has been rather quiet recently fighting only three times in the past 3 years against mediocre competitors, and going 2-1 in these fights. Arlovski needs a win in this fight if he wants to become a relevant HW anytime soon, whereas Sergei could certainly use this tournament to boost his celebrity status in North America, a continent where he is relatively unknown with the exception of the few hardcore MMA fans. Sergei being a boxer and a K1 veteran certainly has the ability to give Andrei a difficult fight on his feet, but I expect Arlovski’s quickness and technique to be too much for Kharitonov to handle. I don’t think Arlovski will get the knockout but look for Andrei to overwhelm Sergei on his feet and get the unanimous decision win.
Brett Rogers v. Josh Barnett
Heavy-handed Brett Rogers is in for a very tough fight against the well rounded veteran Josh Barnett. Rogers is certainly the toughest competition Josh Barnett has faced in a while, but Barnett, who is currently riding a 6 fight win streak, should have the experience and ground game to defeat Brett Rogers. Rogers wants to keep this fight standing and look for the one-punch knockout, but I expect Barnett to take the fight directly to the ground, where he is very comfortable, and either work for a submission or ground and pound his way victory. Look for a unanimous decision victory for Josh Barnett.
Shane Del Rosario v. Lavar Johnson: Shane Del Rosario via 1st round TKO
Valentijn Overeem v. Ray Sefo: Ray Sefo via 2nd round KO.
Gianpiero Villante v. Chad Griggs: Chad Griggs via UD