Fedor Emelianenko: The Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Favorite

By Luke Thomas

MMA Senior Editor

Read More: Urijah Faber (MMA), Fedor Emelianenko (MMA), Alistair Overeem (MMA), Antonio Silva (MMA), Fabricio Werdum (MMA), Brett Rogers (MMA), Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Silva

Most fans, experts and oddsmakers have Fedor Emelianenko as the Strikeforce heavyweight tournament favorite.

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Feb 10, 2011 –

Should Fedor Emelianenko, “The Last Emperor”, be the prohibitive favorite heading into not only this weekend’s bout with Antonio Silva, but the entire grand prix? Even after looking flat against Brett Rogers and losing to Fabricio Werdum, does he deserve to be the top contender? It depends who you ask.

The video above gives you the general sense that most fans believe Fedor and Alistair Overeem are neck and neck to win the entire tournament, although Fedor likely edges him out ever so slightly.

BloodyElbow.com’s own Mike Fagan sees it Fedor and Overeem as essentially even in the contest, but worries about their bracket placement. Obviously of the two only one can advance to the finals:

Fedor Emelianenko +250 – Still the most talented fighter in this tournament. He’s in the “Group of Death,” but I have him penciled in as a significant favorite over everyone in the tournament not named “Overeem.” Emelianenko does have a few intangibles that could come into play against him here: his paper-thin facial tissue, brittle, old-man hands, and a management company that never passes on the chance to utilize negotiating leverage.

Alistair Overeem +250 – Winning the K-1 World Grand Prix and following that with the Strikeforce‘s MMA version would be one of the most impressive accomplishments in combat sports. Like Fedor, I have Overeem as an ample favorite over the other six tournament entrants, including his opening round opponent, Fabricio Werdum, who defeated Overeem before his horsemeat days.

Notably, fighters have their own take on the tournament. UFC bantamweight contender Urijah Faber told MMA Fighting that, “I think it wasn’t a fluke, because Werdum’s very good, but it’s not something that would happen very often…It’s one loss. Fedor is a world champion in combat sambo, a national champion. He’s grown up being a fighter, and he’s the best fighter in the tournament. But [Josh] Barnett is also a really tough dude. So I think it’ll be up to [Alistair] Overeem, Barnett and Fedor, and Fedor will win.”

Bookmaker has also played out a full tournament scenario and actually has Overeem slightly ahead of Fedor.

For my money, Overeem is too simple a play. He’s struggling with persevering. He’s a George Foreman type and there aren’t any instances in the second half of his career where he’s battled back from adversity. He’ll win one or two fights that way, but in a three-fight tournament that tendency will cost him. There are obviously issues with Fedor as well. Will he have the requisite speed that’s enabled him to compete against natural heavyweights at his age? Has he properly prepared? Getting past Antonio Silva should be relatively easy, but Overeem – provided he gets past Werdum – is the true test. There again, though, is where speed will kill Overeem. Or so I am betting.

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Luke Thomas

MMA Senior Editor

Luke Thomas is the former Editor in Chief of Bloody Elbow, one of SB Nation’s MMA blogs. He’s also the host of the MMA Nation radio program on 106.7 The Fan in Washington, D.C.

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