Antonio Silva vs. Daniel Cormier is a semifinal match in the 2011 Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament, which is scheduled to serve as the co main event tonight (Sept. 10, 2011) from the U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Silva advanced with a technical knockout of pre-tournament favorite, Fedor Emelianenko, in the opening round back in Feb. 2011. Cormier, meanwhile, was plugged in as a replacement after Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem -- who has since bolted to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) -- was unable to make the tight turnaround following a unanimous decision win over Fabricio Werdum three months ago.
It's certainly not the match up that most, including the promotion, would have envisioned in the planning stages of the eight-man competition.
Silva is a giant-sized Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist, while Cormier is an undersized (for the division) Olympic-level freestyle wrestler. "Bigfoot," who began his professional mixed martial arts (MMA) career back in 2005, has twice the amount of experience than Cormier, 32, who didn't make his debut until 2009.
On paper, Silva should win this fight nine out of 10 times. But fights are won inside the cage, a place in which Cormier has shown fantastic improvements each time out.
- Elite XC Heavyweight Champion (2008), but tested positive for banned substances shortly after | Cage Rage World Heavyweight Champion (2005)
- NCAA Division I Wrestling Championship runner up at Oklahoma State University (2001) | Fourth Place finish at the 2004 Olympic games in Athens for the United States
Silva: Justin Eilers (Technical knockout, 2008), Andrei Arlovski (Unanimous decision, 2010), Fedor Emelianenko (Technical knockout, 2010)
Cormier: Soa Palelei (Verbal submission, 2009), Devin Cole (Unanimous decision, 2011), Jeff Monson (Unanimous decision, 2011)
Silva: "Bigfoot" is a top 10-ranked heavyweight fighter who shocked the world with his brutal dissection of "The Last Emperor" earlier this year. It was far and away the most significant moment in his career, which up until that point was probably two decision wins over former washed up UFC champions, Ricco Rodriguez and Arlovski. Silva was popped for having Boldenone in his system following his win over Eilers under the Eilte XC banner, which he attributed to treatment for and acromegaly condition. Rather than plead his case before the upside-down California State Athletic Commission (CSAC), the American Top Team (ATT) bolted to Japan to keep busy, picking up two wins to push his record to 13-1. He'd have a minor setback when he dropped a decision to Fabricio Werdum in his Strikeforce debut in 2009, but ever since he has been perfect (3-0).
Cormier: Perhaps the most decorated amateur wrestler in MMA today, Cormier spent most of his 20's competing on the international wrestling circuit. NCAA Tournaments, Olympics, World Championships, Pan American Games. You name it and Cormier has probably participated in it and done very well if not medaled. He is now the head wresting trainer at American Kickboxing Academy (AKA), which says something, considering the wrestling standouts such as Josh Koscheck, Cain Velasquez and now Muhammed Lawal, among others, who work out of the San Jose, Calif., facility. In his most recent appearance against Monson, Cormier demonstrated a very improved stand up attack. In fact, he boxed up the "Snowman" for a majority of the fight en route to a lopsided unanimous decision. Monson isn't a striking threat by any means, but the performance showed that Cormier is willing to stand and trade first and wrestle second.
Silva is the much larger of the pair; in fact, Cormier has recently toyed with the idea of dropping to light heavyweight. The opportunity to compete in the heavyweight grand prix; however, has temporarily suspended those plans.
Neither fighter is a world class boxer and/or known for recording sensational knockouts. Both of them rely on takedowns, ground and pound and submissions. In that order. It's a cumulative approach that overwhelms opponents with punches in bunches until the referee stops the action or their opponents submit.
Cormier's lack of size probably won't be that much of a difference maker if the two hit the mat. He's been pushing around and tussling with much larger men for most of his adult life. It will be interesting to see if Silva's height and reach advantages play significant roles in the stand up. If so, Cormier will need to use his quickness to slip punches, counter and circle for 15 minutes.
Rinse and repeat.
This has a decision written all over it. Clearly, at this advanced level, either fighter is capable of finishing fights. But their styles seem to have the ability to cancel each other out. Silva won't be able to secure takedowns to work his ground and pound Cormier will be content to stay away from a potential submission attempt(s). Expect this one to turn into a boxing match with limited action on the ground.