Fedor Emelianenko compares the Strikeforce Heavyweight World Grand Prix to the Pride tournaments.
Fedor Emelianenko knows a little something about tournaments. His career has been largely defined by winning them.
His first mixed martial arts tournament was the “Rings King of Kings 2000 Tournament,” where he was eliminated due to a cut from an elbow strike in the second round.
In 2001, the Russian icon entered and won the “Rings Heavyweight Class Tournament” and later that year, spilling over into 2002, Emelianenko won the “Rings Absolute Class Tournament.”
In 2004, the former top ranked heavyweight entered the “Pride Fighting Championships 2004 Heavyweight Grand Prix” as the organization’s heavyweight champion. He left as the heavyweight titleholder and the Pride FC 2004 Grand Prix Champion.
Comparing the Strikeforce World Grand Prix to the Japanese tournaments he’s competed in, Emelianenko feels it equals if not surpasses them.
“I believe that this tournament has assembled enough quality fighters and some of the strongest and most interesting heavyweight fighters in the world. So I think that in no way is this tournament any less than the ones I competed for with Pride,” stated Emelianenko. “I believe it’s just as good, if not better.”
They say you can’t train experience and heading into the Strikeforce World Grand Prix, no one in the field has more mixed martial arts tournament experience than Emelianenko. But “The Last Emperor” knows experience can only take a fighter so far.
“I don’t think that the years I spent in Pride can give me any type of advantage or dictate how I will perform in this tournament,” said Emelianenko. “Certainly experience in this tournament is something that is valuable. Nevertheless, I have to train very hard for this fight and we’ll see what happens.”
Strikeforce heavyweight titleholder Alistair Overeem rivals Emelianenko in tournament experience but without the tournament wins. Overeem has competed in the “Pride 2004 Middleweight Grand Prix,” the “Pride 2005 Middleweight Grand Prix,” as well as the Pride 2006 Openweight Grand Prix.”
Overeem also has competed in the K-1 (kickboxing) World Grand Prix twice, placing third in 2009 and took home the gold in 2010.
The Strikeforce World Grand Prix is a single-elimination tournament taking place over several events with dates and venues to be announced and kicks off on Feb. 12 at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
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