Interest in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix is not solely limited to fans. The fighters, too, will be keeping an eye on the field of eight over the next few months. Even the fighters in the UFC.
Among those is Urijah Faber
, the ex-WEC featherweight champ who will be making his UFC debut as a bantamweight at UFC 128.
Faber -- a student of the game who calls Japanese fighter Kazushi Sakuraba his favorite fighter of all time -- was recently asked about his pick to win the tournament, and he went with the legendary Russian mixed martial artist Fedor Emelianenko
Emelianenko will have to rebound off his loss to Fabricio Werdum
last June, but many believe he'll be able to do just that. As a fighter who'd had to fight through adversity himself, Faber thinks the 34-year-old has the mental and physical capabilities to rally back.
"I think it wasn't a fluke, because Werdum's very good, but it's not something that would happen very often," Faber said during a recent UFC event in Las Vegas. "It's one loss. Fedor is a world champion in combat sambo, a national champion. He's grown up being a fighter, and he's the best fighter in the tournament. But [Josh] Barnett is also a really tough dude. So I think it'll be up to [Alistair] Overeem, Barnett and Fedor, and Fedor will win."
Emelianenko's first-round matchup against Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva takes place on Saturday at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
His loss to Werdum snapped a 29-fight unbeaten streak that stretched almost a decade. Oddsmakers originally made Emelianenko the favorite, though betting patterns have caused Overeem to leapfrog him.