Matches set for Strikeforce’s heavyweight tournament

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Above is the official brackets for the recently announced Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix. Who is in it? A few familiar faces and a few I am sort of surprised to see.

The first two quarterfinal fights begin on Saturday, Feb. 12, live on Showtime from the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey (as we mentioned yesterday). In the main event, the 34-year-old Emelianenko will face the towering Antonio “Big Foot” Silva (15-2) in a STRIKEFORCE and M-1 GLOBAL co-promoted event. Co-featured on Feb. 12, former world champion Andrei Arlovski (15-8) will face Sergei Kharitonov (16-4), the last man to defeat current STRIKEFORCE Heavyweight World Champion Alistair “The Demolition Man” Overeem.

The other two quarterfinal matchup will feature Alistair Overeem (34-11, 1 NC) against the only man to tap out Fedor, the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist Fabricio Werdum (14-4-1), while the heavy-handed Brett “The Grim” Rogers (11-2) will meet a hungry Josh Barnett (29-5). The location and date for these quarterfinal tournament fights are to be announced but are expected for a potential March 5 show. Fights will also go down to determine alternate spots in case of injuries in this tournament.

The surprise to me is Sergei Kharitonov, who just knocked out Tatsuya Mizuno at K-1 – Dynamite!! Power of Courage 2010 on New Year’s Eve in Japan. To be fair, Sergei actually beat Overeem back in 2007, but that was when Sergei was still fighting on a more regular basis. Since then, he has gone 2-1, with one fight per year since his victory over the current Strikeforce heavyweight champ. Brett Rogers is at least a member of the Strikeforce roster while Sergei is almost like a ringer being called in. Matching him with Arlovski is a very good test for both fighters, so we shall see how that turns out.

Any predictions now that the brackets are official?

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