Strikeforce targets Fedor vs. "Bigfoot," Arlovski vs. Kharitonov

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as mentioned in other thread...


"The Last Emperor" is returning ? finally.

Fedor Emelianenko (31-2 MMA, 1-1 SF) meets Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva (14-2 MMA, 1-1 SF) in the opening round of an eight-man Strikeforce heavyweight tournament scheduled to begin Feb. 12 at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, N.J.

In a second quarterfinal fight, former heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski (15-8 MMA, 0-2 SF) meets Sergei Kharitonov (16-4 MMA, 0-0 SF). ( learned of the news from sources close to the fighters who are earmarked for the tournament. first reported the tournament earlier today.

A third quarterfinal matchup between Fabricio Werdum (14-4-1 MMA, 3-0 SF) and Brett Rogers (11-2 MMA, 2-2 SF) reported as in the works for a March 5 event in Columbus, Ohio, is said to be off, sources said, though Werdum recently told Radio he plans to compete at the spring event.

Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker declined to comment on the reported fights, though he said an "important announcement" about the tournament is due by Tuesday.

Emelianenko's return marks the apparent end of contentious contract negotiations between Strikeforce, Showtime and M-1 Global, the parent company responsible for managing the Russian heavyweight. This past month, as heavy rumors circled about an Emelianenko vs. Silva matchup at a Strikeforce card set for Jan. 29, officials from Strikeforce and M-1 Global said negotiations still were ongoing and a deal was not finalized.

However, the officials were optimistic that a deal was closer than ever.

"We are really hoping that we can finalize things as soon as possible," M-1 representative Evgeni Kogan then told "We have been steadily working toward an agreement. And I think we are closer to it now than we have been in the past."

Emelianenko has not competed since he suffered a shocking submission loss to Werdum at "Strikeforce and M-1 Global: Fedor vs. Werdum" earlier this year. A rematch between the two appeared to be in the works before Werdum underwent surgery for a damaged elbow and was put on the bench until early next year. Emelianenko previously had flirted with the possibility of retirement, but the loss to Werdum ultimately stoked his competitive fires.

In an August interview with M-1 Global's website, he hinted that a new contract with Strikeforce could last for up to four to six fights, though the terms of Emelianenko's new deal could not be verified.

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Not a hard matchup for Arlovski to get back into winning ways really, after being thrown in at the deep end against Fedor.. Good to see Fedor back though, no doubt he'll be back to his winning ways..

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