It took seven long months but finally the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix semifinals are here. With a two spots in the finals on the line, four men will step into the cage at the U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio on Saturday September 10th looking to punch their ticket.
The action starts on HDNet with the five undercard bouts, highlighted by two light heavyweight bouts and a rising Female Mixed Martial Artist. Knockout artist Amanda Nunes returns to action after her 14 second destruction of Julia Budd at Strikeforce Challengers back in January. She’ll be taking on Alexis Davis who recently defeated Julie Kedzie on the undercard of the Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson card.
Mike Kyle drops back down normal weight of 205 lbs. after giving Antonio Silva a run for his money last year to welcome the undefeated Brazilian Marcos Rogerio de Lima into Strikeforce Former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion, Rafael Cavalcante will look to rebound from losing his title to Dan Henderson earlier this year when he steps in against the 2000 Olympic silver medalist in freestyle wrestling for Cuba, Yoel Romero. Both this light heavyweight bouts have importance do to the uncertainty of the current champion Dan Henderson.
The main card is stacked with talent, intrigue and every fight has a storyline. Maximo Blanco looks to bust onto the US scene when he makes his Strikeforce and US debut against the underappreciated Pat Healy, who is looking to make a name for himself by taking the fight on short notice. Roger Gracie will have his toughest challenge to date in MMA when he takes on the former Strikeforce lightweight champion King Mo Lawal.
The night’s first tournament bout will see alternate replacement and Olympic wrestler Daniel Cormier taking a big step in competition to face the much taller/bigger Antonio Silva. Bigfoot defeated Fedor to reach the semifinals and was set to face Alistair Overeem prior to Cormier stepping in.
The co-main event of the night is actually a Strikeforce middleweight title fight between Ronaldo Souza and the challenger, Luke Rockhold. Souza comes in on a four fight win streak and will be making his second title defense, while Rockhold will be returning to action after being out of action for nearly 19 months. How Rusty Rockhold is to start this fight is going to set the tone for the rest of the bout.
The main event is the second semifinal match of the night between Josh Barnett and Sergei Kharitonov, with the winner moving into the finals to face the Cormier vs. Silva winner. Barnett used his wrestling to earn a spot in the semifinals by defeating Brett Rogers via second round submission. Kharitonov advanced to the semifinals by scoring the quickest win thus far in the tournament when he knocked out Andrei Arlovski at 2:49 of the opening round. Strategies for this fight are pretty simple, Barnett wants the fight on the ground and Kharitonov wants to keep it standing.
The Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Semifinals: Barnett vs. Kharitonov main card will air on Showtime.
265 lbs.: Josh Barnett vs. Sergei Kharitonov – Josh Barnett
265 lbs.: Daniel Cormier vs. Antonio Silva – Antonio Silva
185 lbs.: Ronaldo Souza vs. Luke Rockhold - Ronaldo Souza
205 lbs.: Roger Gracie vs. Muhammed Lawal – Roger Gracie
155 lbs.: Maximo Blanco vs. Pat Healy – Pat Healy
205 lbs.: Mike Kyle vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima – Mike Kyle
205 lbs.: Rafael Cavalcante vs. Yoel Romero – Rafael Cavalcante
170 lbs.: Jordan Mein vs. Evangelista Santos – Jordan Mein
145 lbs.: Alexis Davis vs. Amanda Nunes - Amanda Nunes
185 lbs.: Chris Mierzwiak vs. Dominique Steele – Chris Mierzwiak
Remember if you hadn’t already; enter the Strikeforce Heavyweight tournament bracket contest to win some cool prizes.
Lets hear you predictions!