Sergei Kharitonov made an impactful Strikeforce debut Saturday when he knocked out former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski in the quarterfinals of the Strikeforce World Grand Prix Heavyweight Tournament.
With the win, Kharitonov moves into the semifinals of the tournament, where he is expected to face the winner of the April bout between Josh Barnett and Brett Rogers. Kharitonov has now won five of his last six fights (spanning nearly four years) with the lone loss coming to Jeff Monson at DREAM 8 in April 2009. He moves to 18-4 on his career.
The loss is Arlovski's fourth in a row and third by first-round knockout. He drops to 15-9 on his career, which now appears to be at a crossroads.
Many had confidence in Arlovski coming into this fight due to the fact he started training with Greg Jackson in New Mexico. He looked good early, moving well and landing a few shots and kicks on Kharitonov. Arlovski, though, lacked cage awareness as he refused to circle to a position where his back would no longer be to the cage, allowing Kharitonov to trap him on several occasions. Arlovski looked to work the Thai clinch throughout the bout but found limited success and it ultimately led to his downfall.
Arlovski threw a knee out of the clinch as Kharitonov hit him with an uppercut, making Arlovski retreat. Kharitonov then clipped Arlovski with a lunging right that dropped him. He followed that up with a shot that put Arlovski out and then a few more for good measure to his newly-unconscious foe before referee Kevin Mulhall could do what Arlovski could not: Circle around Kharitonov and dive in for the save. Mauro Ranallo exclaimed on the Showtime broadcast that "Kharitonov (treated) Arlovski like Christina Aguilera treated the National Anthem at last Sunday's Super Bowl."
This certainly was an impressive win for Kharitonov. He needed an impressive performance in his Strikeforce debut to show people he is for real in this tournament and he absolutely did that here. Hopefully fans won't downgrade Kharitonov's win here as they downgrade Arlovski. It would be irresponsible to do so considering Kharitonov came in and knocked him out in the first round.
With four straight defeats (with three coming by brutal knockout), Arlovski's future must be examined here. At 32 years old, it appears he could be done. The worst thing for a heavyweight is to have is a suspect chin. Despite all his physical gifts, Arlovski's chin just can't keep up. A sad tale. Hopefully he can find something else to be productive in in life should he choose to hang up the gloves.