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The Heavyweight War of 2011: Fedor Falls, Strikeforce Fumbles

As Strikeforce and the UFC battle throughout 2011 to see who has the better heavyweight division, casualties are expected.  Strikeforce's ambitious world heavyweight grand prix looks to create the most respected heavyweight fighter outside of the UFC, and one of the favorites to win the tournament, Fedor Emelianenko, was eliminated in the first round.  Emelianenko was crushed by Antonio Silva, his eye swelling shut and causing the fight to be called off.  This certainly threw a hitch in Strikeforce's grand scheme to create a heavyweight with outstanding credentials.  

Ideally, we'd have seen Emelianenko progress to the semi-finals to face Alistair Overeem or Fabricio Werdum, the winner of that fight would then get a solid fight against the winner of side B, who will likely be Josh Barnett.  Instead, we have Silva, who was handed a decision loss by Werdum, then a scare against Mike Kyle before going on to fight Fedor.  Silva earned a lot of respect with the way he handled Fedor, but he's not nearly as compelling as the stone cold Russian.  Some things went as planned in the first round though, with Sergei Kharitonov knocking out Andrei Arlovski quickly in their quarter-final bout.  

Despite Fedor's elimination from the tournament, the Strikeforce:  Fedor vs. Silva event was an overall success.  On average, the show drew 741,000 viewers, and they peaked at 1.1 million, shattering previous records.  A quick return with the second round of this heavyweight grand prix would keep the interest of fans, and get the focus off of Fedor's loss.  As many expected though, this was too much to ask.

The second round was scheduled to be held April 9th, but after a failed attempt at securing a venue in Japan, and elsewhere, it was postponed.  Needless to say, if Strikeforce can't go one grand prix event before having to postpone the next, this may not be the only time that the grand prix hits a road bump.  The event has now been pushed back to June 18th, set for Dallas, TX.  In the meantime, the UFC is set to start airing The Ultimate Fighter season 13 this month, which features Brock Lesnar coaching against Junior dos Santos.  Strikeforce's likely inclusion of Gina Carano to their June show will insure that TUF 13 doesn't eclipse the event in regards to general interest and coverage.  The results of this second round should paint a picture of what to expect from the rest of the tournament, here's to hoping that picture isn't a train wreck.

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