By Oscar Dronjak (HammerFall), Strikeforce Heavyweight Tournament
Being raised on the early UFC, I am a sucker for tournaments. While I completely understand why it was eventually abandoned, I do miss the real sport-feel coming with an elimination event. Just look at TUF (The Ultimate Fighter); I'm sure the format of winning to stay in the tournament has a lot to do with its success and allure. There's just something really attractive and exciting about the “lose-and-you're-out” danger. Then there's the backside. A one-night tournament is a traditional way of determining the very best (that night, anyway), but the many injuries and alternates replacing winning fighters make it impossible to stage one of these today.
Now on to the show. Both Fedor Emilianenko and Andre Arlovski lost their fights Saturday. They used to be the kings of Pride and the UFC respectively, and their losing so decisively was somewhat surprising. This was Fedor's second consecutive loss after going undefeated for almost 10 years, and Arlovski has been knocked unconscious in three of his four last fights. What does that mean, really? Does that mean these guys are remnants from a different era, and that their skills have declined enough that their time ruling the ring/cage is over? Or are they still as good, it's just everyone else that has gotten better? As usual, it's probably something in between. The wear-and-tear that comes with training and competing in MMA has caught up with them, perhaps? It might be that the way they fight is ancient, because it was more fighting/brawling before, now it's much more a sport. After his loss to Fabricio Werdum last summer, Fedor said he didn't change anything in his training regimen, he continued doing the things he always had done the way he always had done them. Most other fighters who suffer a loss like that goes back, re-evaluates and works on improving his skill for the next fight. Fedor also immediately hinted at retirement in his post-fight interview, which tells me he doesn't have the fire to compete inside him as much anymore. And a fighter that is lacking in that department should not go anywhere near a cage.
Sergei Kharitonov's post-fight interview was funny, hearing "Russia is number one!" on American television in regards to combat sports (which, for the sake of argument here, includes pro wrestling) was unusual. And everyone had to accept that this was an expression worthy of just as much respect as when people chant "USA, USA" urging on their national fighters. Patriotism is a tricky thing to handle in combat sports, since it's been misused so much over the years (again, including pro wrestling). Should be interesting going forward in this tournament. Because, let's face it, accepting and respecting other people's heritage isn't something you would immediately link to (American) combat sports fans. Granted, Kharitonov didn't beat an American, he knocked out a Belarusian, but his next fight is going to be against the winner of Josh Barnett and Brett Rogers.
It would be one thing if MMA was a national American thing only, but that's in no way true. It's a global movement if there ever was one! Just look at the seven different UFC champions: there are three Brazilians, three Americans (two of which are of Mexican descent) and one French Canadian. Strikeforce also has seven championship belts, and they are currently being held by three Brazilians, two Americans, and two Dutch fighters. In this ongoing tournament, there were only two American entrants, and they will be facing each other in the first round. So you have eight athletes from five different countries competing in this Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix. This is an international sport, all right!
** Oscar Dronjak's (HammerFall) MMA Hammer of Justice, Part 1 by clicking here.
** Oscar Dronjak's (HammerFall) MMA Hammer of Justice, Part 2 by clicking here.
** Oscar Dronjak's (HammerFall) MMA Hammer of Justice, Part 3 by clicking here.
** Oscar Dronjak's (HammerFall) MMA Hammer of Justice, Part 4 by clicking here.
** Oscar Dronjak's (HammerFall) MMA Hammer of Justice, Part 5 by clicking here.
** Oscar Dronjak's (HammerFall) MMA Hammer of Justice, Part 6 by clicking here.
** Oscar Dronjak's (HammerFall) MMA Hammer of Justice, Part 7 by clicking here.
** HammerFall's new album, Infected, is out June 7th, 2011 on Nuclear Blast Records.