Tomorrow night (Sept. 10, 2011) the semifinals of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix will conclude, leaving MMA fans with two finalists who will do battle for the tournament crown at a yet to be announced date and location.
Injuries, postponements and other unforeseen obstacles have taken their toll on the buzz surrounding this tournament, but for the people still tuned into it; we are in for quite a treat on Saturday night in Cincinnati.
Not only will a combatant emerge from the tournament as a top 10 or even top five heavyweight, but we may have a new title challenger in either the Strikeforce or UFC heavyweight division.
Participants for the Showtime-televised broadcast include longtime veteran Josh Barnett and perennial contender Sergei Kharitonov, as well as late replacement Daniel Cormier, who will go to battle against former EliteXC Heavyweight Champion Antonio Silva.
Silva has found himself on the better end of a winning streak, finding his most impressive fights during the span. Since losing to Fabricio Werdum in late 2009, "Bigfoot" has won three in a row over Andrei Arlovski, Mike Kyle and most recently stopping Fedor Emelianenko.
He will look to add another notable on his record when he takes on NCAA All-American and Olympic wrestler Daniel Cormier in "Queen City."
Here's how Silva put himself on the map.
Entering the cage on Feb. 12 in New Jersey, Antonio Silva would walk in with a very big size advantage over opponent Fedor Emelianenko. However, Fedor was legendary for knocking off bigger foes -- even if they were less than top competition.
Fights against Zuluzhino and Hong Man Choi showed that technique trumped size as Fedor crushed both enormous fighters with ease. He would make a career of being the lesser-imposing fighter in terms of appearance and he was coming off his second career loss after several years of not losing.
Although Silva was a black belt in the arts of Judo, Jiu-Jitsu and Karate, many felt like this was just another Goliath the "Last Emperor" would slay down.
They were wrong.
Before we start, let me first give a thank you to Zombie Prophet for the .gifs. Check out his site (Ironforgesiron.com) -- he has .gifs and videos of fights up faster than anyone else on the net.
In a 40-second span, the invincibility of the proclaimed "GOAT" of mixed martial arts had all but vanished. While many had credited Fedor’s two losses as "flukes," this fight cannot be disputed any other way then a beat down, thorough demolishment and a passing of the torch.
After a quick takedown, Silva was able to pass the guard and swiftly, after two transitions, would pass into the mounted position. The Brazilian enjoyed a massive (estimated 40-pound) weight difference in this fight. Being mounted by a man bigger is overwhelming enough, however it wasn’t just size, as Silva was much stronger as well.
While mounted, Silva stays postured. This is important because it prevents Fedor from attempting to hold Silva in an attempt to get a stall and a stand-up from the referee. He also has much more room to land strikes without being in danger of absorbing them. In the grappling world, it is all about distance, and Silva uses that well as he sits back and slaps down huge strikes.
Succumbing underneath the power of the ground and pound, Fedor spins and retreats, giving up his back to Silva. Quickly, Silva gets his hooks in under the body of Fedor and the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt starts working for a choke.
Threatening with a submission opens up strikes and throwing strikes will open up submissions.
As Silva works for a rear naked choke, Fedor rolls back. But instead of trying to scramble or hip out, he makes it very easy for Silva to sit right back into mount. He is grounded and pounded once again and Fedor for the second time gives his back. And once again, rolling back into mount Fedor fails to explode for any sort of escape. Silva, however, is sitting perfectly on the lower abdomen of Fedor making it extremely difficult to be bucked off.
Complete and utter dominance in the grappling department as Fedor is flattened out twice and thoroughly controlled in the mount.
Silva attacks with an arm triangle (For more on how this works click here).
As I mentioned before, ground and pound will open up opportunities for submissions and Silva attacks with one from the mount. The arm triangle from the mount is a very common submission as a flailing bottom fighter will often make their arm vulnerable to be trapped near the head.
Silva bounces to side control, the most effective position to finish the submission.
He begins to create an angle much like Brock Lesnar when he submitted Shane Carwin. The difference being, Silva did not continue to walk away from the body of Fedor to create a much tighter angle. As Fedor defended, Silva realized his massive arms and power would not be enough to finish the hold.
Fedor breaks free and once again offers nothing in defense (or offense) as Bigfoot manages to stay in a half guard position and lands more strikes.
The second round was one-sided for Bigfoot as he controlled the entirety of the fight on the ground, threatening with huge strikes and submission attempts. Fedor, who throughout his career had been known for defeating larger opponents, had finally been trumped in size and by skill. Bigfoot wasn’t just a freakishly large opponent; he was a skilled foe who exploited Fedor’s weaknesses.
Antonio Silva was a fringe contender in the heavyweight division and with this lopsided victory announced his presence among the top guys in the division, showing that size was very difficult to overcome when it was added in with top notch black belt skills.
Size does matter.