February 12th marks the opening round of the Strikeforce Heavyweight tournament and no matter the result of either of the two featured bouts, a forecast for either side of the bracket will be made clear.

The marquee headliner between Fedor Emelianenko (32-2-1) and Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva (15-2) is a meeting between two men whose last loss was to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu phenom Fabricio Werdum.

Emelianenko, whose only prior loss in his illustrious, decade-spanning career was a cut stoppage, is the favorite for not only the bout but the tournament as a whole. Despite this, “The Last Emperor” has a lot to prove coming off the lose to Werdum. Not only that he is still invested in the sport, but that he is capable of dealing with the skill sets of the newer generation of Heavyweights. His loss to Werdum was abrupt and shocking all the same, and an 8 month layoff has brought about a lot of speculation regarding where exactly his standing is in contemporary Mixed Martial Arts.

Silva’s loss to Werdum, on the other hand, was a much more grueling affair with a debatable conclusion. The first round was a dominant one for the 6’-4, 260 lb “Bigfoot” with his size and raw strength, keeping his opponent floored and dazed for the entire stanza. Exhaustion soon set in for Silva, and the following two rounds were much closer. Despite the decision going to Werdum, Silva showed just how imposing his physicality can be. Two wins have followed for Silva, with him showing improved endurance against both Andrei Arlovski and Mike Kyle.

On the other side of the bracket, Andrei Arlovski and Sergei Kharitonov meet and look to strike up a sense of momentum. Arlovski is a former UFC Heavyweight Champion, but is on 3 fight skid as of late, with losses to Emelianenko, Silva, and fellow tournament competitor Brett Rogers. He has taken some time off, refocused, and will look to make his presence felt in the Heavyweight division once more.

Kharitonov is the last man to beat Alistair Overeem and despite his unassuming place in both the rankings and fan consciousness, provides a lot of different dimensions to this tournament. His most recent performance at the annual Dynamite show illustrated just how powerful of a striker he is when he knocked out Tatsuya Mizuno. Both fighters, despite being veterans, have an untapped reserve of potential along with a self-belief that should bring forth an interesting outcome on either side of the spectrum.

A win for either Emelianenko or Silva sets up either a potential rematch between Werdum or a clash with Heavyweight Titan Alistair Overeem; either fight is going to pose a ridiculous amount of debate, opinion and attention. The winner between Emelianenko and Silva will either get an opportunity to avenge a bitter loss, or tackle the Heavyweight anomaly that is “The Reem”.

The Strikeforce Heavyweight tournament is a behemoth of an event in Mixed Martial Arts, with so many possible matchups and results. Emelianenko, Silva, Arlovski, and Kharitonov are all working toward the same goal, and will let their performances speak for who is the premiere force in the Heavyweight division.

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