|Fedor Emelianenko faces Antonio Silva in the quarterfinals of the Strikeforce world heavyweight grand prix. (Photo courtesy Strikeforce)
It took only 69 seconds for Fabricio (Vai Cavalo) Werdum to end Fedor (The Last Emperor) Emelianenko's decade-long undefeated streak.
The two met in the main event of Strikeforce/M-1 Global: Fedor vs. Werdum on June 26, 2010. Following an early flurry that sent Werdum (14-4-1) to the mat, Emelianenko (31-2, 1 NC) recklessly tried to put his opponent away with ground-and-pound.
The former PRIDE FC heavyweight champion's overly aggressive attack landed him in hot water, as he soon found himself locked in a triangle armbar with no option other than to tap out.
Despite topping many pound-for-pound lists prior to the loss, Emelianenko never considered himself the greatest competitor in mixed martial arts.
"I never believed that I was the best fighter in the world," Emelianenko said through his translator on a Strikeforce conference call.
"Nothing has changed for me. I train just as I've trained before. It just so happened that I had made an error in my previous fight. So in training I have just worked on trying not to make that same mistake again. For me nothing has changed inside of me and I still have the same beliefs. I just want to train harder for the next fight."
Emelianenko looks to bounce back when he faces Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt Antonio (Big Foot) Silva in the quarterfinals of the Strikeforce heavyweight world grand prix tournament on Sat., Feb. 12, at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, N.J. Another tournament bout between Sergei Kharitonov and Andrei (Pitbull) Arlovski will serve as co-main event on the card.
The remaining quarterfinal fights, which are expected to take place on April 9, will see Josh (The Babyfaced Assassin) Barnett go toe-to-toe with Brett (The Grim) Rogers and current Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair (Demolition Man) Overeem meets Werdum.
Three tournament reserve matches round out the Feb. 12 event. Undefeated Shane del Rosario squares off with Lavar (Big) Johnson, Alistair's brother Valentijn (The Python) Overeem faces K-1 veteran Ray (Sugarfoot) Sefo and Chad (The Grave Digger) Griggs takes on Gian Villante.
The winner will be crowned Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix champion and will earn a heavyweight title shot. However, should Alistair (34-11, 1 NC) be victorious, he will become a dual Strikeforce titleholder.
If Emelianenko and Werdum both win their first round fights and remain healthy, they will meet in the semifinals. Emelianenko said he hopes to avenge the loss, but isn't looking past Silva (15-2).
"I don't think it's correct to...say who I would want to fight in the second round because before I can even start thinking about that I have to fight Antonio Silva," Emelianenko said. "That's dangerous and difficult enough. Hopefully with God's will I will be able to get by the first round and that's when I will start thinking about who I will be fighting in the future.
"I'm ready and prepared to step into the cage against Fabricio at any time. It's something that I'd very much like to do."
Silva said he expects a tough fight, but that Werdum revealed the blueprint to beating the MMA legend.
"I think Fedor is a complete fighter and he's very well-rounded," Silva said through his translator. "It's tough to determine how this fight will go. I think I will do more stand up in this fight. If it goes to the ground, then it does. One thing I have in my mind is that Werdum showed to the world that Fedor's main weakness is on the ground. But he's a complete fighter and I'm going to follow where the fight goes.
"Fedor is the best, so this is the top of the food chain. For me, this is the final and I will give it all I have to make this happen. This is my dream and I'm going to beat the legend and I'm going to be a legend."
Emelianenko said he welcomes the challenge from anyone who thinks they can beat him.
"Many times people have sized me up and tried to say what my strengths and weaknesses are," Emelianenko said." If they say they've found what my biggest weakness is, then let them take advantage of it."