Lightning struck twice at The IZOD Center during the first round of the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix tournament, as Fedor Emelianenko suffered his second loss in a row, and this third overall in his illustrious career. Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva was willing to trade blows with the Russian in the first round, but once Silva took it to the ground, Fedor seemed lost. At the start of the second round, Silva shot for a takedown and scored, dominating the round with his superior positioning and submission attempts that had the New Jersey crowd on their feet. As the second round came to a close and the third was pending, some confusion happened in the cage and moments later, we learned that the doctors were stopping the fight due to Fedor looking a lot like Sloth from “The Goonies.” Silva will advance in the tournament to fight the winner of Alistair Overeem VS Fabricio Werdum.
Sergei Kharitonov also advanced in the tournament, with a knockout over Andrei Arlovski. Both fighters stood on their feet and exchanged kicks and punches, but it was only a matter of time before the more accurate Kharitonov wobbled Arlovski and dove in for the finish, leading him to take on the winner of the Josh Barnett VS Brett Rogers fight.
Valentijn Overeem submitted Ray Sefo in the first round, dictating the pace on their feet and quickly snatching an armlock once he took Sefo to the mats. Shane Del Rosario managed a great armbar finish from Lavar Johnson as soon as they hit the ground, but the real submission of the night had to go to John Cholish over Marc Stevens, who finished with a spectacular kneebar worthy of Oleg Taktarov. In other prelim action, Anthony Leone suffered a horribly broken nose in his bout with Josh Laberge, forcing the doctors to stop the bout before round two, while Kevin Roddy and Jason Mclean were the only fighters who went to a decision on the entire show, ending with a split decision in favor of Mclean.
As for my analysis and being at the event in person, it was a fun night as I expected, despite paying $35 for a Fedor shirt for my dad (35… really?). There is nothing quite like seeing the big shows live. I was over in the press box in section 108, shooting photos from an odd angle, but thankfully the arena is not too huge so there were no bad views. The crowds reaction after the main event was mixed, with a few rogue Fedor fans hurling garbage into the ring at Silva. The way Fedor’s eye looked, there was no way he could keep fighting and not be fatally injured, so I support the stoppage. In the meantime, this week look out for post-fight interviews with Scott Coker, Fabricio Werdum and Antonio Silva, as well as some other interviews with The Reem, Josh Barnett and Herschel Walker.
Hit the jump to check out more of my shots from the night of fights!
Kevin Roddy knees Jason Mclean
Anthony Leone suffered a horrible broken nose, courtesy of a knee from Josh Laberge
Igor Gracie throw a wild punch at John Salgado
Boot to the face from Valentijn Overeem on Ray Sefo
Gian Villante and Chad Griggs slug it out
Lavar Johnson and Shane Del Rosario trade blows
If you want to see all the photos from this event, head to this link over here!