The Good, The Bad & The Ugly of Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Silva

The big story coming out of Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Silva was undoubtedly Fedor Emelianenko suffering his second loss at the hands of Antonio Silva. As has became the norm with Strikeforce shows the event gave fights plenty of quick finishes as a series of heavy handed heavyweights exploited supportive matchmaking to secure devastating if not technically sound knockouts. Inside Fights was live at the event with our Editor-in-Chief Shawn Smith doing live play by play from cageside and now our MMA Editor Will Cooling looks at The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of the first round of Strikeforce’s Heavyweight World Grand Prix.

The Good:  Doctor Stoppage of Fedor vs. Silva Fight

One of the more disturbing aspects of MMA officiating is the lax approach to eye injuries. Numerous times we’ve seen fighters with potentially career threatening eye injuries being allowed to cajole or trick rightly concerned doctors into letting them fight on. The problems caused by such recklessness are numerous…from half-blind fighters being more susceptible to punches coming from their blind slide to ultimately the risk that the cut will worsen and lead to permanent damage to the eye. So well done to Saturday’s match officials who had the intelligence and courage to realize that the severe damage done to Fedor Emelianenko’s eye meant that his fight against Antonio Silva had to end early. In doing so they prevented the legendary former Pride FC heavyweight champion taking unnecessary punishment and being on the end of an undeserved knockout loss.

The Bad: Strikeforce’s Matchmaking

While Fedor Emelianenko and Andre Arlovski had both been on the decline for some time Strikeforce did neither any favors with their matchmaking. Fedor is the smallest heavyweight in the field so it made absolutely no sense to put him up against the sport’s biggest heavyweight at the quarter-final stage! And while Andre Arlovski has the technical boxing to outpoint and outland almost every other GP contender it’s no secret that his chin can no longer withstand a solid shot. So what did Strikeforce do? They put him up against the former amateur boxer and sometime K-1 kickboxer Sergei Kharitonov. Predictably Arlovski took most of the match until Kharitonov landed an uppercut and the end soon followed. Maybe the result would have been the same if either man had faced smaller grapplers such as Fabricio Werdum or Josh Barnett but there can be no doubt by pairing their two most established stars against nightmare stylistic matchups Strikeforce’s matchmakers decisively pushed both towards the door marked retirement.

The Ugly:  Showtime’s Production

Showtime has been making real strides in its production recently but Fedor vs. Silva was a surprising step backwards. Firstly the return of Gus Johnson in place of Pat Miletich not only denied the announcing team the authoritative and insightful analysis of the former champion and legendary trainer, but it seriously imbalanced the commentary team as once again Johnson and Mauro Ranallo awkwardly shared play by play duties. Secondly while it was good to see Showtime spend time interviewing fighters in an attempt to get their personalities over and promote future fights many of the interviews were absolutely horrible with both Fedor’s bizarre interview and Gina Carano’s giggle-fest coming across as decidedly amateurish. Thirdly Strikeforce’s inferiority complex was once again on display with frequent references to the UFC and Pride FC (the latter being the wholly owned intellectual property of Zuffa let us not forget). The most bizarre example of this was Mauro Ranello’s comment that Ray Sefo had not been able to prepare properly for his fight against Valentijn Overeem because he had been busy training Vitor Belfort. When you consider that Sefo’s fight was billed as a match to determine an alternate for the organization’s heavily hyped Grand Prix that was a shockingly stupid statement.

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