Strikeforce’s Heavyweight Grand Prix got off to a rocking start with a card that turned out to be full of insane finishes. After the first preliminary fight of the night went to a decision, every fight was finished in the first or second round, including what could turn out to be the last time Fedor Emelianenko steps in a cage.
Let me tell you about the parking lots at the IZOD Center in New Jersey. The first time I was there, I tailgated with Roman and Hernia. The second time was last night when I drove up to the parking lot that media members were encouraged to use. I pulled up to the little toll at the gate and asked the woman keeping the gate what she needed from me. At that point, I assumed that it was specifically the media parking lot. She sat there and didn’t say anything, so I asked what she needed. “Twenty bucks,” she said flatly.
Now, that seemed a bit steep for a credentialed media member. “It’s twenty dollars for media?” Here comes the good part.
“Where’s your pass?”
I was a little confused at this point. See, I had just got there and was still trying to park. I have to park my car before I can go get my credentials which are inside the building.
“I don’t have them yet. I just got here.”
She rolls her eyes and sighs. “Who are you with?”
“The Big Lead.”
“The Big Lead? Never heard of it.”
“Its a website.”
She rolls her eyes again and pretty much laughs in my face. “A website? You’re the fourth ‘web site’ that’s come through here.” Rolling her eyes the entire time. She didn’t really believe me, but a line of cars was backing up behind me so she had to stand her ground or let me go. Since she’s so unimportant that she probably doesn’t even get a walkie-talkie issued, there’s really nothing she could do. So she had to let the fancy internet person pass, even though she’d never heard of that website. At this point, I’d like you to go find an Adam Carolla rant on any airline employee and think about this asshole while he’s yelling.
HWGP: Fedor Emelianenko vs. Antonio Silva
Bigfoot Silva has an absurd amount of swagger. The first round was insane. Back and forth. Both guys in trouble. Fedor’s submission attempts and Silva’s escapes. The Rockstar girls weren’t even off the stage by the time that Silva had taken Fedor down in the second round.
The second round was even crazier. Silva spent the entire time in control and Fedor somehow survived despite a broken orbital.Fedor has always been a mystery. He’s quiet and speaks like a thoughtful, violent Yoda through his translator. Yet he went nearly 10 years between loses at a time when the sport was blowing up. Last June, part of the mystique was destroyed when Fabricio Werdum submitted him with some very human Jiu-Jitsu. His match last night against Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva was supposed to be Fedor’s return to greatness, yet the bigger, stronger Silva would not fold to The Last Emperor. Silva was just too big in the end as he bloodied Fedor and broke his orbital, causing the doctor to stop the fight.
The crowd had mixed emotions. Some booed at the idea of Fedor retiring. Most chanted his name. People chanted “thank you, Fedor.” And now we see if Silva has taken any of Fedor’s folk hero status in the way that Werdum did. Whenever Fabricio Werdum appeared, people screamed and cheered. By beating Fedor, he went from a guy the UFC cut that no one in America really cared about to “The man who beat Fedor.” That’s some folk hero shit right there. Whatever happens with Fedor, I’m happy to say that I got to see him fight in person. Even if I could barely see the cage.
I know I shouldn’t complain about my free seat. Hey, I sat in the rafters for UFC 118. I’ll just say its hard to write when you have to stand up to see anything. I just pretended that I was at Jerry World and that’s why I was watching the fights on the TV while I was in the crowd. Of course, Jerry World probably has working internet.
When 10 o’clock finally came around, the 8 fighters from the Grand Prix were introduced and they were all wearing special Strikeforce varsity jackets. It was something different.
Valentijn Overeem vs. Ray Sefo
Overeem won by neck crank early in the first. You don’t see it often, but people tend to tap when it feels like their head is about to be popped off their shoulders.
Chad Griggs vs. Gianpiero Villante
This was one of the wildest 2 minute brawls you’ll ever see. Villante made the mistake of brawling with a brawler. It was an absolute slobber-knocker. Griggs landed almost everything he threw. It was a bittersweet brawl for the fans as Villante is a native New Yorker.
Shane Del Rosario vs. Lavar Johnson
Lavar “Big” Johnson is a man with confidence. It almost translated to the fight as he controlled early, got a takedown and landed some big shots. Then he gassed and Del Rosario took over. Full mount. Tons of punches.
Gina Carrano was there. She announced her return for 2011 while she giggled a lot. Perhaps they’ll let her fight Andrei Arlovski.
Andrei Arlovski vs. Sergei Kharitonov
The song Kharitonov came out to was freaking awesome. Arlovski came out to a song about him.
Both guys were excited to get started. Kharitonov had to be told multiple times to go back to his corner. Arlovski came out aggressive and sharp. Easily the best he’d looked in years. Then Kharitonov hit him on the chin. A lot. Arlovski was out before he hit the mat and the ref didn’t step in. So he hit him. And he hit him again. Kevin Mulholland did not do his job and sure as hell didn’t protect Arlovski, who needs protection. Mostly from himself. For a minute, I thought he was dead. Talk amongst yourselves about whether or not Arlovski should still be licensed to fight in the US.
The highlights of the preliminary fights included 4 stoppages. John Cholish completely dominated an overmatched Marc Stevens before locking in a knee bar. Josh LaBerge broke Anthony Leone’s nose early in the fight with a knee. Leone spent the rest of the round painting the canvas red and trying to survive. The doctor stopped the fight between rounds. Igor Gracie got a warm ovation since he’s both a Gracie and from New York. He made everyone happy by choking out John Salgado.
In the end, Strikeforce put on another wildly entertaining show. No matter how you feel about their match-making (lopsided) or their credential-giving (slow, bad seats), they just keep putting on fun shows to watch. Now let’s see what they can do if Fedor really does retire.