Strikeforce Announces Heavyweight Tournament For 2011Confirming weeks of speculation, Strikeforce has confirmed plans for an eight-man heavyweight tournament and officially announced all tournament participants today. In one first-round matchup, Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem will rematch Fabricio “Vai Cavalo” Werdum.

Other opening round bouts will see “The Last Emperor” Fedor Emelianenko return to the cage to face Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, while Andrei “The Pitbull” Arlovski battles Sergei Kharitonov. Completing the bracket, “The Babyfaced Assassin” Josh Barnett will clash with Brett “The Grim” Rogers.

Overeem (34-11-0, 1 NC) is undefeated in his last ten fights and captured the Strikeforce Heavyweight Championship more than three years ago. He most recently dispatched of former UFC prospect Todd Duffee in just 19 seconds at K-1 Dynamite!! 2010. Werdum (14-4-1) defeated Overeem when the pair first met in May of 2006 and is coming off of the biggest win of his career. He shocked the world by submitting Fedor Emelianenko in June and will now look to pick up another huge win when he gets a rematch with the reigning Strikeforce champion, Overeem.

Emelianenko (31-2-0, 1 NC), after months of additional renegotiations between management group M-1 Global and Strikeforce, will finally return to action and will be forced to rebound from a loss for only the second time in his storied career. The long-time former PRIDE Heavyweight Champion was thought to be unbeatable before the bout with Werdum, but must now fight through three rounds of a tournament in order to be considered the best. Silva (15-2-0) was the final holder of the EliteXC heavyweight title, but had a six-fight winning streak snapped by Werdum in late 2009. He has since rebounded with two big wins and will look to follow in Werdum’s footsteps by upsetting Emelianenko.

Arlovski (15-8-0) is one of two former UFC Heavyweight Champions in the Strikeforce tournament and the Belarusian holds a decision win over Fabricio Werdum from 2007. However, he has dropped three straight fights and now finds himself on the brink of dropping out of contendership entirely. Likewise, Kharitonov (17-4-0) will have a lot to prove in his Strikeforce debut when he competes in the tournament. The former PRIDE contender has recently split his time between MMA and K-1, but has achieved mixed success in both sports. With Kharitonov’s chin faltering on occasion, Arlovski could pick up the big victory that he needs to return to elite status in the division.

Barnett (29-5-0) is one of the most polarising figures in MMA. The former UFC heavyweight ace was released from the promotion after allegedly testing positive for steroids in 2002, then later went on to have considerable success in PRIDE. Since then, Barnett has spent more time in pro wrestling than in MMA, and remains without a fighter’s licence in the United States following a third positive test for steroids in 2009. Rogers (11-2-0) opened his career with ten straight stoppage wins – nine coming by knockout – but suffered back-to-back defeats in his next two bouts. He is coming off of a lacklustre decision win in October and will have a very tough test when he faces Barnett.

In addition, at least one tournament reserve bout is reportedly close to being finalised, as Shane del Rosario will likely face Lavar “Big” Johnson on February 12th. Also on the same card, “Sugar” Ray Sefo is expected to face Valentijn “The Python” Overeem in a second heavyweight clash that could also serve as tournament reserve bout.

The Emelianenko-Silva and Arlovski-Kharitonov matchups will take place on Saturday, February 12th at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The remaining two quarterfinal bouts will take place at a later date to be determined.


  1. It’s going to be an awesome GP.
    Fyodor has a tough road ahead.