After much rumor and speculation, Strikeforce officially announced the beginning of its eight-man heavyweight tournament in 2011.
It involves Strikeforce's biggest marketing chip -- Fedor Emelianenko -- and its biggest enigma -- champion Alistair Overeem -- at opposite ends of the bracket. It represents the dream matchup for fight fans, and it could happen in the final late in 2011, assuming health and, you know, losing in the early rounds, do not become a problem.
Here's the quarterfinal breakdown:
Feb. 12 at Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J.
TBA, but believed to be in April
The photo above represents the last time Emelianenko and Arlovski fought. Should that matchup happen again, expect a similar outcome.
Emelianenko is one a one-fight losing streak, notable for a fighter that spent the past 10 years (and 27 fights) winning. He tapped out to an arm triangle by Fabricio Werdum early in the first round. Werdum's reward for the shocking upset win? A quarterfinal bout against Alistair Overeem, who in December won the K-1 Grand Prix and the interim Dream title with a 19-second knockout.
Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker said he expects to wrap up this tournament by September. One curious thing about the bracket (see below) is that Emelianenko could face Overeem in the semifinals, rather than the final. Interesting.
By the way, Strikeforce and Emelianenko's promoter, M-1 Global, agreed to a multi-year contract extension.