Daniel Cormier was brought into the Strikeforce World Heavyweight Grand Prix as a tournament alternate, but he made it clear that he belonged in the bracket from the get-go tonight with an emphatic victory over Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva.
Silva, who defeated Fedor Emelianenko in an upset victory to advance in the tournament, never really made it into the fight with Cormier. He didn’t give the bout up, but Cormier was not to be denied. He rocked the much larger Brazilian with a right hand early on and took control of the action from there.
Though that first shot didn’t put Silva away, it did signal the beginning of the end for the recent Team Nogueira transplant. Cormier took his time, but stalked Silva down, landing crisp, snappy shots that never allowed Bigfoot to recover from his daze and eventually forced him to dive for the takedown out of desperation. The Olympic-caliber wrestler avoided the attempt easily and beckoned Silva back to his feet. Once there, Cormier put together a three-piece combination that caused Silva to slump to the mat. The two follow-up shots were academic, Silva was done.
The knockout victory showcased Cormier’s vastly improved striking game — which he attributes to training with Cain Velasquez on a daily basis — and earned him a spot in the tournament finals, where he’ll face Josh “The War Master” Barnett.
Cormier improves to 9-0 with the win, while Antonio Silva falls to 16-3. Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Kharitonov went down tonight from the US Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio.