Fedor Emelianenko is ready to return to the cage for the first time since losing to Brazilian submission ace Fabricio Werdum last summer. The Russian heavyweight phenom will face Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva in the opening round of Strikeforce’s upcoming heavyweight tournament on February 12th.
The Russian heavyweight phenom is no stranger to tournaments, having competed in – and won – the Rings Heavyweight Class Tournament in 2001, the Rings Absolute Class Tournament in 2002 and the PRIDE World Heavyweight Grand Prix in 2004. In a recent media call, Emelianenko compared the upcoming Strikeforce tournament to the PRIDE tournaments.
“I believe that this tournament has assembled enough quality fighters and some of the strongest and most interesting heavyweight fighters in the world so I think that in no way is this tournament any less than the ones I competed for with Pride,” said Fedor. “I believe it’s just as good, if not better.”
Having won three tournaments in the past, Fedor still feels that while his experience is valuable, it doesn’t give him an advantage in the tournament.
“I don’t think that the years I spent in Pride can give me any type of advantage or dictate how I will perform in this tournament,” he stated. “Certainly experience in this tournament is something that is valuable. Nevertheless, I have to train very hard for this fight and we’ll see what happens.”
Silva and Emelianenko are will face off this February 12th at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Their fight, along with a match up between Andrei Arlovski and Sergei Kharitonov, will mark the opening round of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix.