Despite losing for the first time in 10 years in 2010, Russian superstar Fedor Emelianenko was a heavy favorite tonight against Antonio ‘Big Foot’ Silva in the quarter-finals of the Strikeforce Heavyweight GP, but the Brazilian was poised to provide the tournament’s first major upset.
Fedor struggled to make an impact in the first round, throwing big shots from the outset, but struggling to find his range against Silva’s long reach.
Silva looked comfortable despite the early onslaught and appeared happy to trade, backing Fedor up with a straight right and then pressed him up against the fence. As they jockeyed for position Fedor fished for a guillotine but Silva went for the takedown. The Russian showed quick hips to get out from under him as they went to the mat and ended up on top as a result.
After testing Big Foot’s guard, Fedor reached for a kimura, but his opponent was simply too strong and they were soon back to their feet trading blows toe-to-toe, bloodying Fedor’s nose in the process.
In the second things got worse for Fedor when Silva quickly took him to the floor and began to dominate, moving to the mount with relative ease and then throwing a barrage of damaging blows, forcing the Russian to roll onto his front repeatedly to find brief moments of respite and keep the referee from stopping the fight.
Silva used that position to flatten him out and threatened with a choke, but Fedor escaped. Towards the end of the round Silva suddenly went for a leg lock, but Fedor stayed calm and returned the favor with one of his own.
That bought the Russian fighter enough time to survive until the round, but as the bell sounded it quickly became apparent just how damaging his much bigger opponent’s vicious ground and pound assault had been, with Fedor’s face battered and bruised, and crucially, his right eye in the process of swelling completely shut.
Unable to see out of the eye in-between the rounds, that left the cage-side doctor with no option but to call an end to the fight, handing ‘Big Foot’ Silva the shock victory.
Silva now progresses to the semi-finals where he’ll meet the winner of Fabricio Werdum Vs Alistair Overeem, while Fedor is left to contemplate whether now is the right time to call a halt to his long and memorable career.