The Strikeforce World Heavyweight Grand Prix begins tonight, with Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Silva live on Showtime. We'll be live blogging the show, starting with the preliminary card airing on HDNet starting at 8 PM ET. The HDNet broadcast will featuring Bas Rutten and Michael Schiavello calling the action together for the first time, and I suspect things will get wild early and often. Then, join us for the main card, airing on Showtime beginning at 10 PM ET. Fedor Emelianenko takes on Antonio Silva in the main event, and Andrei Arlovski meets Sergei Kharitonov in the co-main event of the evening. Both fights are quarterfinal matches in the Strikeforce World Heavyweight Grand Prix, one of the most anticipated heavyweight tournaments in the history of the sport!
The live blogging begins at 8 PM ET, after the jump!
We're minutes away from the live preliminary card on HDNet, and I'm absolutely PUMPED for this. Join me in the comment section tonight and let me know how you guys feel about the show! "The Voice" Michael Schiavello opens it up, and then introduces Bas Rutten. They're both high energy, and on paper I wasn't sure if they'd work well together, but these guys are killing it (in the best way possible). At this point, there's usually two or three goofs from the booth, but so far, it's going down like bailey's and coffee, and I'm loving it.
Anthony Leone vs. Josh LaBerge:
First fight up, LaBerge coming to the ring and I see some new screens above the walk in ramp, looks like this is what everyone was referring to when media said that there would be some Pride throwback. Leone comes to the cage, and we're ready to begin!
- Round 1 - The round begins, leg kick from LaBerge to get us started. Leone throws one of his own. Both men look patient, but fireworks look ready to be lit. LaBerge comes in with a combo, Leone clinches and puts LaBerge's back against the cage. A knee from Leone and they separate. LaBerge looks more active, Leone a little cold early. Exchange in the clinch and as they separate. More circling, Leone looks awake now, strikes being thrown often, favoring the leg kick. Leone shoots, looking for a single leg, no dice. Big knee to the chin from LaBerge! Leone recovers, still looking for the take down but no luck. Elbows cut Leone open. Leone goes from double leg, to standing back control, really gushing now. Back to a single leg and he's not getting it. As I say that, he picks up LaBerge and brings him down. Looks like a broken nose for Leone, working from side control. He may just drown LaBerge with all this blood. Leone looking for a arm triangle all day, but LaBerge not giving it to him though. What a blood bath man. 10-9 for Leone, but I could also easily give it to LaBerge for damage dealt. Oh my, the fight is called off by the doctor! LaBerge wins via TKO at 5:00 of the first round.
Don Carlo-Clauss vs. Sam Oropeza:
Don Carlo has a great beard/hair combo, but Oropeza just came out to "The Sound of Silence", by Simon and Garfunkle, this man is invincible. Seriously, Don Carlo looks like a caveman, definitely beats Clay Guida. The crowd is hot for Oropeza, who trains with Eddie Alvarez.
- Round 1 - The round begins, Oropeza is gargantuan compared to Don Carlo. Oropeza throws a headkick that misses, Clauss comes in aggressive, but Oropeza escapes. They exchange and clinch, both men looking to get something going, but Oropeza backs Clauss into the cage. Big knee from Oropeza, seconds later, he backs away. Nice right hand from Clauss leads to another head kick from Oropeza. Love how Oropeza is throwing the head kick clear over Clauss' head, dude is so tall in comparison. Neither man has really landed anything remarkable. Another missed head kick from Oropeza, finally aims a little lower with another kick after, but it's blocked. Blocked kick again, nice right hand from Oropeza, Clauss dives for a takedown but can't get it and is now taking a lot of shots. Oropeza takes his back, hooks are in and the punches are coming down. It's over. Oropeza wins via Submission (strikes) in the first round.
Schiavello talks about his time talking students about anti-bullying with Alistair Overeem. Rutten chimes in saying he also is working with Cartoon Network (if you haven't seen his "Get Active" promos with them, youtube it, it's great) on an anti-bullying campaign as well. I remember growing up when you could just stick a kid in the face if he gave you a hard time, and it was done. Things aren't that simple anymore, damn kids got access to guns, and are violent as hell. It's nice to see the MMA community working together on this, especially when we have guys like Bob Reilly in NY saying that it causes violence.
Salgado and Gracie up next, Salgado heading to the cage.
Igor Gracie vs. John Salgado:
- Round 1 - Probing jab from Gracie, and two inside leg kicks to begin. Salgado comes in, Gracie ducks and clinches, they're against the cage, but Gracie can'ts get it down yet. Big double leg from Gracie, and he takes Salgado's back, hooks are in. Strikes from gracie, and the rear naked choke is in, Salgado defending. Body triangle is in, and then Salgado gets out. Woah! Reverse headbutt from Salgado and the ref calls him on it with a stern warning. Schiavello, "Well, he is from Brooklyn." Gracie still has his back, Salgado trying to use the cage to wall walk, but no luck. Body triangle is still in, Gracie striking, but looking for an arm triangle. Strikes to the back of the head from Gracie and now he is warned. Body triangle is reset and he's looking for the RNC again. Salgado sure is defending good, I'm impressed. Gracie looks subtly frustrated. Time is winding down in the round. Gracie just chilling out now. Salgado gets a funky headlock and starts throwing punches, very school yard. The round ends with a big flurry from Gracie on the ground. 10-9 Gracie.
- Round 2 - Round begins and Salgado has to be confident coming in. Salgado dropping his hands as he kicks, spinning back kick attempted by Salgado. Nice double leg by Gracie and the fight is down again. Salgado trying to stand against the cage, Gracie trying to keep him down, triangle on Salgado's legs. Gracie in full mount, great use of the leg triangle to make that happen. He's looking to pin Salgado's arm, and he may look to finish with strikes now. Gracie looks for an arm triangle, staying in tight. Body shots from Gracie. Salgado tries to roll but no luck at first, then gets to his belly and turtles up. Gracie sticks to his back like white on rice. Salgado rolls to his belly, and Gracie has the arm triangle in tight. Salgado goes to sleep, and "It's good night Irene!!!" Gracie wins via submission, round 2.
After a long break with commentary from Bas and The Voice, we're on to the final fight of the preliminary broadcast.
Marc Stevens vs. John Cholish:
- Round 1 - Cholish throws a head kick early that misses. Both men probing, leg kick from Stevens. Cholish scores a take down, working in guard now. Cholish stands, looks to avoid an upkick, he spins Stevens who tries to stand, Cholish looks for a guillotine, but opts to throw some punches as Stevens stands. They clinch, and jockey for position against the cage. Little bit of dirty boxing, thai clinch from Cholish leads to some knees to the dome of Stevens. They separate and look from an opening as they circle. Punches and kicks traded. Failed takedown sees Cholish clinch and a take down secured from double under hooks. Cholish in side control. Cholish attempts to mount, but fails, Stevents trying to get up, no luck. Cholish not landing much but Stevens is going no where. Stevens gets Cholish into his closed guard now, left hand from Cholish. Cholish stands once again, the round ends with Stevens on his back. 10-9 for Cholish.
- Round 2 - Right hand misses for Cholish. Stevens shoots in, not even close, Cholish reverses and scores a take down of his own. Inside the closed guard is Cholish, looking to do some damage. Stevens tries for a triangle choke but it's not even close. Half guard for Cholish, who's trying to get his leg free. Cholish crawls to the edge of the cage with Stevens. Back into full guard, Cholish throws some shots from postured position. The referee stands them up, bad stand up, but whatever. Stevens blows snot out of his nose...exciting. Stevens misses a right hook, and its a kick to the body shortly after. Reaching right hook from Cholish. Stevens shoots, Cholish avoids, they scramble, Cholish snatches a leg, and wins by knee bar!!! Nice! Cholish wins via submission in the second round.
The Showtime broadcast begins at 10 PM ET, see you guys then! Also, feel free to leave your thoughts on the show in the comment section, would love to hear your thoughts!
The show begins with Strikeforce's typical Strikeforce intro, but I think we're getting a special treat as the show begins. Jimmy Lennon Jr. introduces each of the 8 heavyweight grand prix participants, and they takes their place at the top of the entrance ramp. "Pride never die!!!" sign spotted right at the ramp, classic. Not quite as epic as a Pride intro, but points for trying. Gus Johnson opens us up. The purple tie really brings the color out in his eyes. Ranallo says he's having Deja Vu from Pride days, I'm afraid I'm not quite so thrilled, but he gives a shout out for the Pride never die sign. Nice. The consensus is that Gus Johnson is wearing an ungodly amount of makeup, it's just as bad as that one photoshopped pic of him...really.
Ray Sefo making his way into the cage, glad this is the first fight on the card...it'd be insulting to Griggs and Villante if this fight was featured over them. Strikeforce pushing Valentijn with the tie to current champ Alistair, the crowd will be disappointed if they think he's half the fighter Alistair is.
- Round 1 - And we begin! They touch gloves, and Sefo looks real stationary. Inside leg kick for Overeem, outside kick from Sefo. Right hook from Overeem, Sefo answers. Sefo pushes forward but doesn't land. Overeem looking more game on the feet than I expected. Overeem missed a superman punch. Overeem with a front kick to the head, Anderson SIlva style but not much comes from it. Slow double leg from Overeem but he gets, he then instantly submits Sefo with a neck crank. Called it. Overeem wins via submission, round one.
- Round 1 - They touch gloves, and Griggs comes out aggressive. Clinch and knees to the head from Griggs. Villante hasn't gotten off yet, Griggs may have thrown him off his game. Villante getting tooled, he clinches and puts Griggs' back to the cage, smart move. Villante with underhooks, ref telling them to work. Elbow from Villante on the exit, but Griggs bangs him with a hook as they separate. Villante is looking terrible here. Villante shoots, but gets nothing. They stand and are trading. Head kick from Villante rocks Griggs! Moutpiece falls out for Villante, time is stopped and he gets it back. They're banging some more, Griggs drops him! Villante survives, getting back to the feet, but he's dropped again against the cage, and Griggs finishes the fight! Griggs wins via TKO, round one.
- Round 1 - I have a feeling this is going to look similar to Griggs/Villante. They touch gloves, and Lavar clips Rosario. Johnson's back against the cage, they trade knees. After working for position, Johnson takes the fight to the ground. They're against the cage, Rosario working an open guard for the most part. Shots from Johnson, but they get back to the feet. Head kick misses for SDR. They clinch, big knee from Johnson. Big body shot from Johnson now. SDR not looking too hot here. They clinch, and SDR works dirty boxing. Johnson looking real strong, maybe a little winded. They separate, and Johnson starts throwing haymakers that miss. They clinch, and SDR gets a takedown. SDR gets mount quickly. SDL trying to posture up but Johnson holds him close. SDR is postured and throwing some leather. Big punch lands, Johnson being careful. SDR high on Johnson's chest, maybe looking for an arm (it's right there) Johnson tries to escape out the back, but can't. Big punch from SDR. Armbar from SDR and Johnson can't get away, he taps! Rosario wins via submission, round 1.
- Round 1 - No glove tap, Arlovski opens up with a hard leg kick early, following up with a straight right and an inside leg kick. Arlovski kicks to the head, finds himself cornered against the cage shortly after. They clinch, dirty boxing from both men, Arlovski exits with a knee to the chin of Kharitonov. Arlovski looks great, but he's getting pressed against the cage and cornered. Body shot from Kharitonov. Clinch again, right hand from Arlovski after they break. Jab from Arlovski, right hand again. Kharitonov landing nice uppercuts dirty boxing in the clinch. The crowd chants Arlovski. Uppercut from the outside by Arlovski, Arlovski gets rocked, Kharitonov tries to finish, he drops Arlovski, then a HARD shot puts Arlovski to SLEEP! Kharitonov wins via KO in the first round.
- Round 1 - Typical Fedor staredown as the fight is set to begin. Here we go, the crowd is ALREADY chanting Fedor. Jab from Silva, kick from Silva. Over hand right from Fedor, and he starts opening up. Fedor looks like a man on mission, a mission to break SIlva's jaw. Silva tries to answer but is shrugged off. They stand a striking distance, waiting for the moment to strike. Silva clinches and pushes Fedor's back to the cage, Fedor trying to get away, no luck at first. Knee to thighs from Silva, Fedor patient. Fast break from the ref. Overhand right for Fedor lands. Slva charges, Fedor winging hooks. Right straight from Silva lands and backs Fedor up. Front kick from Silva and he clinches against the fence again. I hear a lot of wild Russians in Fedor's corner. Silva looking for a double leg, but he's not close. Fedor may be looking for a Guillotine, Silva feels it, tries to take him down, but Fedor avoids and is on his feet again already. Silva down, Fedor pounces shortly after. Some strikes on top, he stands again, then goes to half guard again. Strikes from Fedor again. Fedor working an arm, but Silva gets away quick. They stand, big punch for Silva lands, but Fedor looks solid. They clinch against the cage again, Silva using his weight and size well. Silva fires three right straights down the pipe and Fedor flurries, the round ends with a takedown for Silva. Tough to score, but 10-9 Silva on my card.
- Round 2 - This the round I predicted it would end, we'll see if it plays out as such. Fedor swings hard early, SIlva ducks and lands a take down. Silva in half guard. Strikes from top control for Silva, but Fedor looks calm. Silva trying to land some power shots, but no luck. Fedor can't escape. The crowd still showing love to Fedor. Fedor bucks, Silva passes to half guard, then to north south, then to the other side. Woah! Silva gets mount and lands some bombs, Fedor rolls to his belly, then his back, then his belly again! Silva looks for a choke but can't get it. Fedor on his back again. Defending strikes well is fedor, but they begin to get through! Fedor staying alive, but this is not good at all! Silva looking for an arm triangle! It looks tight! Here it comes!!!!!!!!! Fedor SURVIVES! Half guard for Silva again. The strikes come down once again. Silva slowing down. Occasional punch landed for Silva. SIlva dives for a leg! He's looking for a knee bar! Fedor goes for one of his own! Here we go! The fight is on! Silva wags his figner "no"! The round ends! 10-9 Silva! The ref has called the fight due to Fedor's eye being swollen shut! Incredible! Silva wins via TKO in the second round.