"Alistair Overeem is a great fighter," Emelianenko told MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani via a translator. "He is very strong and is a very serious fighter. Lately he has won a K-1 tournament, as well. The only question I have [is] how he managed to gain 20 kilos of weight in such a short period of time. But frankly speaking I don't care, if he passes [the] drug tests successfully."
Of course, one of the questions raised by Emelianenko's management at M-1 Global recently was exactly what form those drug tests might take.
With Overeem's rapid weight gain, speculation has run rampant as to what might have been fueling his sudden increase in muscle mass. M-1's Vadim Finkelchtein threw more fuel on that fire by publicly calling for Strikeforce to conduct 'strict drug-testing' for the tournament, saying he wanted to make sure that Emelianenko's opponents were "professional fighters, not chemists."
Though Emelianenko pointed out that the Olympic-style drug-testing request was Finkelchtein's idea and not his, he said he supports measures to make the competition as fair as possible.
"I completely agree with Vadim regarding the idea that all the fights have to be very honest, and all the sportsmen have to be clean and they have to work under equal conditions," said Emelianenko. "It's not a secret nowadays that a lot of sportsmen use drugs trying to increase their strength, their speed. I think the fight has to be honest."
As for the tournament itself, which kicks off this weekend in New Jersey with Emelianenko taking on Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva in the first round, the Russian said he was a fan of the format, and predicted it will boost Strikeforce's profile among MMA fans.
"I like tournaments and I participated in such tournaments already. They're very interesting because with every fight only the strongest fighters stay. That's very exciting. ...I think Strikeforce will become even more popular because of that tournament, because they managed to get together very good fighters, very strong fighters, very spectacular, very interesting [fighters]."