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Strike Force: Fedor vs. Silva review
by Scott Newman (MMA)
Posted on February 21, 2011, 5:19 AM

Strike Force: Fedor vs. Silva

02/12/11
East Rutherford, New Jersey


-Alright, so first off some thoughts on the Strike Force Heavyweight Grand Prix. In terms of an actual idea, I like it a lot. It creates a ton of interest in the division and solves one of the biggest problems Strike Force has had, that being the lack of direction in terms of the matchmaking. There are a few problems with it – no seeding in the brackets so that the side with Fedor, Bigfoot, Werdum and Overeem is much tougher than the other side, and obviously the fact that even if Overeem doesn’t win the whole thing he’ll still be the Strike Force HW champion, but then it’s not like that belt with it’s one defence in four years means much anyway, so hey. I’m all for it.

-We open with a sort-of PRIDE style introduction for all eight fighters in the Grand Prix, and they’re all wearing Strike Force jackets, which is pretty cool. Oh, one more bad thing about the GP – the involvement of steroid monkey Josh Barnett. Guy should’ve been left to rot in smaller promotions after what he did.

-Your hosts are Gus Johnson, Mauro Renallo and Frank Shamrock. Ugh. Who the hell thought it was a good idea to bring back moron Johnson? Especially after Mauro, Shamrock and Miletich had done a solid job in the last few Strike Force events. Absolutely retarded decision. This dude is the worst commentator in the history of MMA in my opinion. Guy can’t even pronounce Sergei Kharitonov’s name right.

Heavyweight Fight: Valentijn Overeem vs Ray Sefo

Not sure why either of these guys were signed by Strike Force as it goes – Sefo is obviously a legend of the kickboxing world but at the age of 40 it hardly seems appropriate for him to start an MMA career, while the elder of the Overeem brothers has hardly been successful recently, having lost matches to complete nobodies as recently as October and November 2009. Bit of a bleh fight then I’m afraid.

Fight begins and Sefo throws out a couple of leg kicks and a left hook. Right hook glances off Overeem’s head. Another one lands and backs up the Dutchman. Superman punch from Overeem misses and Sefo counters with a jab. They exchange some punches before Overeem goes for a really telegraphed takedown, but it works and he lands in side mount. Neck crank follows and Sefo taps out.

Just as pointless a fight as I’d expected it to be – I mean really, when was the last time someone tapped to a neck crank in one of the top promotions. Nothing against Sefo who was a world-class kickboxer, but obviously he’s way past his prime now and shouldn’t really be starting an MMA career at this point. Don’t see Overeem doing anything as an alternate although it’d be fun to see him attempt to “avenge his brother” pro-wrestling style should Alistair lose!

-Heidi Androl interviews Fedor with translator, who says he’s changed nothing coming into the Silva fight, including his habit of listening to Russian Orthodox music before the fight. Odd.

Heavyweight Fight: Chad Griggs vs Gian Villante

Prospect Villante was named on Bloody Elbow’s prospect rankings list (albeit at LHW) so he was definitely a guy I was keeping my eye on when he signed with Strike Force. Griggs is best known of course as the guy who handed Bobby Lashley his first loss back in August. Pretty solid fight for an alternate bout then, for sure.

Round One and they clinch and quickly start to trade blows before breaking off. Leg kick lands for Villante. Suddenly Griggs really starts swinging wild blows, and Villante looks a little taken aback. He fires back with knees, but a right hand wobbles him and Griggs looks to close in. Villante clinches and moves him into the fence, but Griggs breaks with a stiff one-two that has him wobbled again. Big uppercut from Villante and he starts unloading on Griggs from the clinch, then drops for a takedown, but Grigs blocks and grabs a headlock before coming back up. They both start swinging and Villante looks to be in trouble as Griggs lands with some clubbing shots. Villante keeps trying to fire back and lands with a head kick that Griggs somehow shrugs off, and then referee Yves Lavigne calls an awkward stoppage to replace Villante’s mouthpiece. Awful officiating. They restart and exchange some more crude shots and this time Villante goes down! Somehow he gets back to his feet, but Griggs comes in throwing bombs and drops him again for the finish.

That was sloppy but a lot of fun. Like Eddie Sanchez vs. Antoni Hardonk or Joey Beltran vs. Matt Mitrione or something. I guess Villante made a mistake taking a fight at HW rather than his more natural 205lbs, but hey, he has plenty of time to bounce back. Upset win for Griggs and I guess he might make a little more of himself than I first expected.

-Mauro is joined by Alistair Overeem and his opening round opponent Fabricio Werdum for an interview. Overeem says he requested Werdum as his first opponent because he wants to avenge his 2006 loss to him, and then says this tournament will determine the top Heavyweight in MMA. Outside of Cain Velasquez that is, although naturally Alistair didn’t say that. Werdum’s English is pretty terrible and hard to understand but he seems excited for the bout too. He says he’d like to see his friend Bigfoot win, but he’d like to fight Fedor again. For Overeem it’s 60/40 for Fedor. Surprising note – Overeem doesn’t look that much bigger than Werdum when both guys have shirts on.

-Heidi Androl meanwhile interviews Josh Barnett and Brett Rogers. Roid Monkey claims he’s massacred his past opponents but puts Rogers over as the real deal. Rogers says he wants to use the tournament to reclaim his status in the HW division. Man do I hope he manages to knock Barnett out. It’d make my year in MMA terms.

Heavyweight Fight: Shane Del Rosario vs Lavar Johnson

These two tend to be mentioned as Strike Force’s two best prospects at Heavyweight, but while I agree with that on the unbeaten Del Rosario, who has impressed me a lot thus far in his short career, I’ve never been enamoured with Johnson outside of him being able to return to action following his shooting in 2009. I was expecting Del Rosario to pick up a relatively easy win here.

We begin and Johnson comes out swinging, knocking Del Rosario off balance as he tries a kick. Del Rosario quickly clinches but Johnson muscles him into the cage. They jockey for position and Del Rosario manages to force Johnson into the fence, landing an elbow inside. Good knee to the body from Johnson and he follows with a trip takedown to guard. Johnson looks to posture up for some punches but Del Rosario manages to escape to his feet. Swings from Del Rosario but Johnson clinches now and looks for the takedown again. Good knee to break for Johnson and he follows with a right and a good shot to the body. Del Rosario comes back with a body kick and a left hand, and then they clinch again. They exchange inside the clinch and then Del Rosario breaks. Big punches from Johnson but Del Rosario breaks and then hits him with a combo. Into the clinch again and this time Del Rosario gets a takedown to side mount. Full mount follows and Johnson is in trouble. Johnson manages to hold on to prevent any punishment, but Del Rosario breaks the grip and sits up to deliver some ground-and-pound. High mount from Del Rosario and he continues to drop punches, and Johnson’s leaving his arms wide open here. One minute to go and Del Rosario continues to land before easily taking the armbar for the tapout.

Fight was even standing but once Del Rosario got it to the ground it was one-way traffic. Definitely a top prospect at Heavyweight, this guy, and I’d say he’s the most dangerous by far of the three alternates we saw win on this show. Probably better than Brett Rogers too, in fact.

Strike Force Heavyweight Grand Prix: Quarter-Finals: Sergei Kharitonov vs Andrei Arlovski

Questions abounded this one then, namely whether Arlovski could come back from three losses on the bounce including two vicious KOs, and whether Kharitonov could ever return to his early PRIDE form that had seen him ranked as high as #4 in the world before a shoulder injury and a severe loss of form had seemingly ruined his career. I had no idea which way to go with this one but was pulling for Arlovski. Kharitonov still doesn’t look in anywhere near as good shape as he was in his PRIDE heyday while Arlovski actually looks pretty tremendous. And I don’t care, it’s hard not to be excited during the staredown as it’s one of UFC’s top guys of the ‘00s against one of PRIDE’s top guys of the same era. Awesome!

First round begins and Arlovski lands an early leg kick and circles around Kharitonov on the outside. Good jab from Andrei and he seems to be beating Kharitonov to the punch. Good combination lands for the former UFC champ. Left hand from Sergei slows him down a little and they clinch and exchange uppercuts. Knee and a right hand from Andrei to break. Leg kick and right to the body from Arlovski but a high kick is blocked. Kharitonov manages to close the distance and has Arlovski backed against the fence for a little, but he circles out. Good right hand from Andrei. A jab follows and he’s still beating Sergei to the punch. Clinch from Kharitonov and he lands to the body as Arlovski tries to secure the plum. Uppercut from Sergei breaks off. Jabs and a right land for Andrei but Kharitonov fires back with an uppercut and a straight right that have Arlovski wobbled. Big right follows and Sergei smells blood. Arlovski tries to clinch to slow down the onslaught, but a pair of BIG UPPERCUTS and a right hook drop him hard and two punches on the ground stiffen him up. Damnit.

What can you say here? Arlovski was comfortably beating Kharitonov standing but once Sergei landed something cleanly the fight was practically over. I think Arlovski is like Chuck Liddell at this point in that he can come in in as great shape as he likes, fight a cerebral fight but because his chin is well and truly fucked all you have to do is hit him on the button and it’s over. And like Chuck, I think it’d be best for Arlovski to call it a day now before he ends up punch-drunk. Should be interesting to see how far Sergei can get in this tournament though, that’s for sure. First time he’s really had my interest since like, early 2006.

-They announce that Gina Carano is coming back to fight which is a MASSIVE boost for the promotion assuming she’ll still draw as well as she did prior to her loss to Cyborg. The pop she gets here suggests she probably will, though!

Strike Force Heavyweight Grand Prix: Quarter-Finals: Fedor Emelianenko vs Antonio Silva

Some people weren’t interested in this one – instead looking ahead to the potential Fedor-Overeem semi-final clash should Fedor win this and Overeem defeat Werdum – but I was actually salivating over it as not only was Fedor facing another live opponent, but Bigfoot was a guy I’d had pegged as a potential “threat to Fedor” since he’d emerged in England in 2005. With Fedor having finally lost in his last outing there was also the question of how well he’d recover from that loss. I expected Fedor to pick up the win, but expected a tough fight in the process.

Round One and the crowd are red hot from the off, chanting for Fedor. Fedor comes out swinging the overhand right and they exchange punches from the off but neither man lands cleanly. Fedor swings again but Bigfoot counters with a nice right hand that lands. Into the clinch and Bigfoot muscles him into the fence. Action slows down a lot so ref Dan Miragliotta separates them. Overhand right from Fedor but Bigfoot pushes forward swinging and almost gets the clinch again. They exchange some big shots and Silva lands a right hand pretty cleanly. Low kick from Silva and he gets the clinch again. Looks like he’s going for the takedown this time but Fedor uses a front headlock to block it. Takedown from Silva but Fedor rides the headlock and ends up on top. Half-guard for Bigfoot and he takes some short punches from Fedor before the Russian stands. Fedor tries to mount but ends up back in half-guard where he lands some more punches. Bigfoot tries a sweep and they come back up to their feet. Mauro calls it as a kimura attempt from Fedor but I must’ve missed that. Back into the clinch and Fedor’s sporting a bloody nose. Action slows up before they trade punches, advantage Bigfoot, and he follows with a takedown to half-guard. Buzzer sounds there. Really close round to call, I’d probably lean towards Bigfoot I think as he just about landed the best shots on the feet, but you could go Fedor too and it wouldn’t be unfair.

Round Two and Silva comes charging out and hits a nice takedown to guard, ducking under Fedor’s overhand right. He passes right into half-guard and then postures up to land some solid punches. Fedor goes for a reversal but Silva’s base is too good and he remains on top. Crowd begin chanting for Fedor again but it doesn’t do him any good as Silva continues to land short blows. Side mount from Silva now and he moves into north/south. From there he takes full mount with surprising ease and starts raining down BIG SHOTS that force Fedor to give his back! Bigfoot flattens him out and so he rolls to mount again...but takes more big shots and has to give his back once more. Never seen Fedor dominated like this! Rear naked choke is avoided but Fedor winds up mounted and takes some more massive shots. I’m wondering how much more he can take now. Silva is bouncing his head like Fedor himself did to Nogueira and I’m guessing all of Brazil is having a collective orgasm over this. Fedor can’t get out from under this guy at all. Arm triangle attempt from Bigfoot and it looks sunk in, and he manages to pass to the side and everything, but somehow Fedor gets some oxygen through and survives. Holy shit. Big pop for that but Bigfoot gets right back into half-guard and starts pounding away again. Fedor’s face is a mess. He’s doing a better job of defending himself now as he’s in half-guard but Silva is still landing. Kneebar attempt from Silva now but Fedor manages to pull his leg just about free and then goes for an ankle lock of his own...but Silva’s having none of that and sits up and WAGS HIS FINGER. Ha! Round ends there. Unbelievable. 10-8 for Bigfoot Silva.

Fedor practically wobbles over to his corner and his right eye is SWOLLEN SHUT. His cornermen get some nice on it, but the doctor takes a look....and DAN MIRAGLIOTTA CALLS THE FIGHT! Silva doesn’t even realize for a moment and then the CELEBRATION BEGINS! Can’t argue with that decision as there’s no way they could’ve let Fedor come out for the third with one eye completely closed like that. I mean sure, they let Koscheck do it in Montreal but then I would’ve stopped that fight too, so hey. Crowd are in shock.

Post-fight Silva actually bows to Fedor, showing some tremendous respect, and then cuts his promo in English (!) that’s barely understandable, but I think he’s giving credit to his teammates. They get an interview with Fedor too and he thanks the crowd and then admits something went wrong in this fight from the beginning, before saying through his translator that it might be time to hang it up. Wow. Time will tell whether he does retire or not but it’d be as good a time as any I guess.

Pretty amazing fight in the end. If it were a random Heavyweight fight then it would’ve been good anyway, but this one felt epic as it was effectively the changing of the guard – we’d already seen the rest of Fedor’s generation, the likes of Cro Cop, Sylvia, Nogueira, Arlovski, Herring, etc – fall over the last few years, but Fedor had somehow avoided that, although until here he hadn’t fought a guy I’d call part of the next generation. Bigfoot however was just too big, and too skilled to go along with his size for Fedor to handle, and once he got on top on the ground Fedor couldn’t do a thing. Does this mean Fedor was always overrated? Of course not. He’s the best Heavyweight fighter of his generation. But the bottom line is that the time for his generation is realistically over now, and like Cro Cop facing Dos Santos, or Nogueira facing Velasquez, he can’t compete with the next generation of fighters. Such is combat sports. It’s sad in a lot of ways that he never did fight in the UFC, but I’m over it at this stage. On the plus side though, while Strike Force may have lost a top draw in Fedor, they have gained a lot of power over M-1 Global now and I sense that this might be the end of their ludicrous co-promoting.

As for the Grand Prix? I’ve long thought Bigfoot was probably the most underrated Heavyweight in the world and to see him take the whole thing would not surprise me at all. My money is definitely on whoever wins in the semi-final between him and probably Overeem – who I think will smash Werdum. Exciting times ahead, for sure.

-Announcers wrap up the night with Mauro saying that both dark horses advanced tonight. Surely that means that you can’t call them dark horses anymore? Who knows. Quick highlight reel ends the show.

Final Thoughts....

With a card full of Heavyweight matches a bunch of early finishes was always likely, but I don’t think anyone could complain about this card, as we only got two fights that were somewhat sloppy (Overeem-Sefo and Villante-Griggs) and the second of those was a lot of fun. Throw in a vicious knockout in Kharitonov-Arlovski and then a fight as epic and probably historic as Bigfoot-Fedor and this is worth an easy thumbs up. I might not like some of their decisions but even I can’t deny that the last few Strike Force shows have delivered in spades.

Best Fight: Silva-Fedor
Worst Fight: Overeem-Sefo

Overall Rating: ****

Coming Soon....

UFC: 121-126, Fight Night 23
King of the Cage: Various shows

Until next time,

Scott Newman:
NewmanMMA@gmail.com




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