For the first time in the history of MMA, the No. 1 male and female fighters in the world will step into the cage on the same night as the top men’s heavyweight and pound-for-pound great, Fedor “The Last Emperor” Emelianenko (31-1), and Strikeforce Women’s World Middleweight (145 pounds) Champion Cris Cyborg (9-1) return to action at HP Pavilion on Saturday, June 26.
The 33-year-old Emelianenko will face off with two-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion and top-ranked superstar Fabricio “Vai Cavalo” Werdum (13-4) in the evening’s main event. Cyborg’s opponent has not been confirmed yet.
For M-1 GLOBAL’s Fedor, the matchup with Werdum is a means of gaining revenge three and a half years after the 32-year-old Werdum defeated Fedor’s brother Aleksander Emelianenko, via submission (arm triangle choke) in the first round (3:24) of a bout in Rotterdam, Holland, on Nov. 12, 2006.
The 6-foot, 235 pound Fedor, who hails from Stary Oskol, Russia, has become the most dominant MMA fighter of all-time since he began his professional career 10 years ago. The 33-year-old has faced and defeated nearly every other rival superstar and champion of this era, including Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, Andrei Arlovski and Mark “The Hammer” Coleman.
A master of the Russian military combat system, Sambo, Fedor made his live, primetime network television (CBS) debut in his last start on Nov. 7, 2009, when he faced unbeaten rising star Brett “The Grim” Rogers in a STRIKEFORCE and M-1 Global co-promoted event. After a difficult first round in which he sustained a cut and began bleeding profusely, the Russian suddenly turned the tide in the second round, sending Rogers to the canvas with a right hand and finishing him with a series of punches.
While the fight world still regards him as undefeated, Fedor actually has one official loss on his record, the result of a doctor stoppage due to a cut he sustained seconds into a matchup with Japan’s Tsuyoshi Kosaka on Dec. 22, 2000. Fedor avenged the TKO loss with his own first round TKO of Kosaka at a PRIDE Fighting Championships event in Japan on April 3, 2005.
Since joining the ranks of STRIKEFORCE, the 6-foot-4, 240 pound Werdum, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and member of Brazil’s vaunted Chute Boxe fight squad, has notched a pair of impressive victories, the first of which on Aug. 15, 2009 when he quickly submitted Mike “Mak” Kyle with a guillotine choke in the first round (1:24) at HP Pavilion. The following Nov. 7, Werdum battled his way to a close unanimous decision victory over Antonio “Big Foot” Silva in a live CBS primetime televised matchup.
During an eight-year tenure in MMA, Werdum has conquered a number of other superstars, including reigning STRIKEFORCE World Heavyweight Champion, Alistair “The Demolition Man” Overeem; and UFC stars Gabriel Gonzaga and Brandon “The Truth” Vera.
Cyborg was crowned the first STRIKEFORCE women’s champion in history on August 15, 2009 after she stopped superstar Gina Carano in one of the most highly anticipated matchups of all time with a vicious barrage of punches in the first round (4:59) of the long-awaited showdown between the top two competitors in the women’s field.
On Jan. 30, Cyborg defended her title against Holland’s hard-trying Marloes Coenen, finishing the game challenger with a series of punches in the third round (3:40) of their matchup at Sunrise, Fla.’s BankAtlantic Center. Cyborg has been invincible, winning her last nine bouts.
The event will be televised live on SHOWTIME® at 10 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast).