Fedor Emelianenko will return to the Strikeforce cage for the first time since his loss to Fabricio Werdum in February… in New Jersey!
“The Last Emperor” will meet Antonio Silva at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey on February 12, marking the first time Strikeforce has held an event in New Jersey. Fedor was choked out by Werdum back in June 2010, while Silva defeated Mike Kyle with five days notice this past December. Also potentially on the card is a battle between former UFC heavyweight champions Andrei Arlovski and Josh Barnett. This match will be most likely determined once the New Jersey State Athletic Commission decides how to handle Barnett, who has tested positive for illegal substances three times in his MMA career and had his recent hearing with the California State Athletic Commission pushed back. Does the NJSAC want to take a risk on Barnett? That is the big question.
This news confirms and gives us more info on the eight-man heavyweight tournament in 2011, with these two fights as quarterfinal bouts. Fabricio Werdum VS Brett Rogers is expected to take place in Columbus, Ohio, on a planned March 5 event as the third tournament bout, with a fourth one to be contested also on that date with fighters to be named. Strikeforce will also hold two alternate bouts in case of injuries, which should push a few up and comers into the spotlight.
This is shaping up to be a big year for East Coast MMA. We don’t get treated to many big events anymore. In fact, not since the IFL was around did we have consistent events in Jersey that were not all the way in Atlantic City. UFC 128 is set for mid-march also in Jersey, and with Strikeforce coming a month before them, it’s a good time to be a fan in the tri-state area. Bellator FC will also soon be announcing some locations for their fourth season, with a return to Philadelphia expected and a trip to Jersey for the wishful. Either way, I am excited – how about you?