Responses to Fedor Emelianenko's underwhelming TKO loss to Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva have primarily been exposes on either the decline of "The Last Emperor" or excuses for the former champion because of size differential. Neither is a viable defense for Fedor's loss in my opinion because I saw nothing from Emelianenko that I haven't seen before. His defensive striking has never been his best asset, his striking didn't look perceivably slower, and his chin did not look any worse for his age. I don't believe Fedor should retire and I also don't think he should take a step down in competition or drop down in weight.
Fedor met a better gameplan and a perfect foil in his opponent last night, and showed incredible resolve with a behemoth of a skilled opponent in Silva having mount for the better part of a round. Bigfoot put on a guard passing and positional clinic while Fedor looked bewildered and overwhelmed on the mat. Silva's hips were phenomenal, as he sat heavy on Emelianenko's chest and rained down his massive hands, continually flattening Fedor out as the russian gave his back time and again, and eventually secured an arm triangle that would put most to sleep.
I'll again give credit to Fedor. He survived the much larger Silva's tight arm triangle, and eventually attempted to mount offense from the bottom with punches to Bigfoot's temple. The brazilian made one tactical error- giving up position for a leglock battle with a sambo specialist. He could have maintained top control and rode his way to a possible 10-7 round but allowed Fedor fans to have one last glimpse of hope in the waning second of the second round.
As this title suggests, I think that most pundits are overlooking Antonio Silva in his career-making TKO victory over a man most people considered still to be top 3 in the Heavyweight division, in route to his third straight impressive victory. Most don't consider his last come from behind victory against Mike Kyle a good indicator of talent, but Kyle is a solid journeyman and Silva showed great heart in the first round only to come back with an incredibly impressive show of brute strength in the second for the stoppage. His only loss in the last four years has been a decision loss to Fabricio Werdum, in a fight that I remember being a tight grappling battle that Bigfoot won on the feet and lost overall due to Werdum's takedowns. Is it possible that Bigfoot is a dark horse to win the Strikeforce Grand Prix? With his physical gifts and above average technical prowess in both grappling and striking, combined with a seemingly granite chin and iron resolve to boot, it is hard to ignore his chances. He'd have to take the rematch with Werdum or the emerging heavyweight star in Alistair Overeem to get a chance for the finals, where I think he would be facing a step down in competition from the prior rounds. I'll cite the cliche "anything is possible," and I don't anticipate him being a 5-1 underdog again.