Fedor Emelianenko | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Fedor Emelianenko will return to the Strikeforce cage on Feb. 12, as he takes on Antonio Silva in a heavyweight main event from the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J.
Sources close to the negotiations informed Sherdog.com Sunday evening of the event’s date and location.
A match between former UFC heavyweight champions Andrei Arlovski and Josh Barnett is also said to be in the works for the February date. It remains to be seen how the New Jersey Athletic Control Board handles the licensing situation Barnett -- who allegedly tested positive for a performance enhancing substance prior to a scheduled bout with Emelianenko in the summer of 2009 -- is dealing with in California. His hearing before the California commission was pushed back at their Dec. 2 meeting.
As speculated, Strikeforce will indeed hold an eight-man heavyweight tournament in 2011, and Emelianenko-Silva and Arlovski-Barnett are set to serve as quarterfinal bouts. Though the remaining combatants could not be confirmed, a third quarterfinal matchup between Fabricio Werdum and Brett Rogers is expected to take place in Columbus, Ohio, on a planned March 5 event.
A fourth and final tournament bout is also set to take place on the March card. Semi-final and final bouts would then be held later in the year at to-be-announced events.
The promotion will also hold two alternate bouts in case injury sidelines competitors in the main draw. Potential contestants could include “Challengers” series standouts Lavar Johnson, Daniel Cormier and Shane del Rosario.
Regarded by many as the greatest heavyweight in the history of the sport, Emelianenko was shocked by Werdum, a heavy underdog, in June, losing for the first time in a decade. Though the sambo specialist floored the Brazilian early in the first period, his follow-up was a bit too aggressive. As Emelianenko attempted to finish the fight with his trademark ground-and-pound, the savvy jiu-jitsu black belt avoided the blows and caught the Russian in a textbook triangle choke. Emelianenko holds notable victories over Mirko Filopovic, Arlovski and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (twice).
Silva is fresh off a come-from-behind win over King of the Cage light heavyweight champion Mike Kyle on Dec. 4 in St. Louis. Taking the fight on just five days' notice, Kyle shocked spectators by landing a crisp right hand to the jaw of the heavily-favored Brazilian, knocking him to the mat. Though the American Kickboxing Academy product pounced with heavy punches and hammer fists, the mammoth Silva would not give up. Round two was all “Bigfoot,” as the former EliteXC champion lived up to his moniker by dropping brutish blows on Kyle's skull and forcing a referee stoppage.
Greg Savage contributed to this report.