In the main event of the evening on Saturday night, Fedor Emelianenko (32-2-0-1, 1-1 SF) returns to the cage after suffering his first defeat in over ten years at the hands, or should I say legs, of Fabricio Werdum. The invincible force in MMA's heavyweight division succumbed to a tight triangle choke hold in the first round of action back in June, and despite the perceived disaster that fans thought the loss conveyed -- Fedor was humble in defeat.
He'll now focus on a new task, striking fear once again into the hearts of the fighters of Strikeforce's heavyweight Grand Prix. While much of the discussion surrounding Fedor has been focusing on his diminished aura and ascending age, Fedor is still considered one of the very best to have ever graced the ring and cage.
In his return, he'll face Brazil's own Antonio Silva (15-2, 3-1 SF), a 265 pound Goliath of a man who regularly cuts down to the weight class' maximum limit. Silva's immense size is always a factor in any fight, but he also holds credible credentials in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Judo. That doesn't make his task any easier as Fedor is still considered one of the heavy favorites in the tournament.
Silva does, however, have an impressive record behind him. At 8-1 in his last 9 appearances, his biggest win came back in May as he battered former UFC champion Andrei Arlovski in a three-round affair at Strikeforce: Heavy Artillery. The massive Brazilian took it to the Belorussian with solid striking and clinch tactics, adding more evidence to the idea that Arlovski's time to shine may be over. Can Silva produce a similar performance against Fedor?
Most fans are under the impression that the chink in Fedor's armor has been found, but they aren't willing to wager that Silva can take advantage of that exposed skin. Fedor's aura may be perceived by some fans as gone, but I'm not buying into that notion just yet.
Superior speed will be Fedor's key to victory on Saturday night. Silva isn't a speedy heavyweight due to his size, and his gas tank isn't considerable when we compare it to other heavyweights in the field. Let's not forget that Fedor is one of the most explosive heavyweights in the sport. He may appear to be the humble, giggly man from Stary Oskol in media appearances, but he transforms into a scary two-faced monster when fight time comes. The stoic, unemotional mystery as he walks into the cage, and once the first punch is thrown - a raging bull ready to pounce on his prey.
Fedor will remind fans on Saturday night why he is one of the most feared fighters on the planet and dispatch of Silva. I'm not going to predict a jaw-dropping beatdown of epic proportions as Silva is a very big man to throw around the cage, but I do believe Fedor finishes him off in this fight. I'll take Fedor via TKO, round 2.