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Fedor Emelianenko Loses Second Straight Fight, Ponders Retirement

<! mediaid=3874458 Gregory Payan, AP: img hspace="4" border="1" align="right" vspace="4" src="" alt="Fedor Emelianenko is pushed against the cage by Antonio Silva." />EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The long and historic career of Russian heavyweight star Fedor Emelianenko was filled with moments where he fought back from the brink of defeat, only to vanquish a bigger foe. But every great runs out of comebacks at some point, and for the second fight in a row, Emelianenko could not find the magic that had been the hallmark of his legendary run.

Emelianenko took a hellacious pounding in the second round of his Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix opening round fight against Antonio Silva, and though he managed to survive the beating, it might have been the last round of his career. In between rounds, the fight was stopped due to swelling around his right eye that compromised his vision, and after dropping his second straight fight, Emelianenko admitted he might have fought for the last time.

"Yes, maybe it's the last time," the 34-year-old said moments after the fight. "Maybe it's high time. Thank God for everything. I spent a great, beautiful long sporting life. Maybe it's God's will."

If it is the end, Emelianenko (32-3, 1 no contest) will retire as the most decorated heavyweight of all time.

Some, however, seemed to think that calling it the end was a little premature.

Both Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker and M-1 Global president Vadim Finkelstein said they believe Emelianenko would reconsider his words after he had time to get over the loss. Emelianenko didn't attend the post-fight press conference in order to visit the hospital for a possible orbital bone fracture.

"The decision is up to Fedor but I think I know him quite well, and he's full of strength," Finkelstein said. "He will continue, but the decision is up to him. I will encourage him. He still has a lot to show his fans, and he will show them."

"As far as retirement, he talked about it, but you know how that goes," Coker said. "People get very emotional during the fight. We'll see. But my position is we have many more fights with Fedor and I think he'll honor his contract."

Emelianenko got off to a good start in the first round against the massive Brazilian who outweighed him by around 55 pounds in the cage. Emelianenko landed power strikes early and seemed to get the better of the exchanges, though Silva did land a few hard shots of his own. In a close round, Emelianenko out-landed Silva 28-25, according to Compustrike.

But the second was as one-sided as one-sided gets. Silva ducked under an Emelianenko overhand right and took him down seconds into the round, and kept him there for the duration. Silva eventually moved into full mount and found his target repeatedly, landing 47 ground strikes while Emelianenko struggled to get out from beneath him. He never did. Silva kept the position the entire round, and Emelianenko only threatened in the final seconds with a leglock.

By then, it was too late, as Emelianenko returned to his corner with an eye that was completely shut. The doctors said he was unable to see, and the fight was called.

"I always said Superman and Robocop don't exist," said Silva (16-2). "[Fabricio] Werdum started it and i just proved Superman doesn't exist."

Silva will go on to face the winner of an April 9 quarterfinal round bout between Alistair Overeem and Fabricio Werdum.

In the tournament opener early in the evening, Sergei Kharitonov became the first man to advance to the semifinals with a first-round knockout over former UFC champion Andrei Arlovski.

Arlovski, who was aiming to snap a three-fight losing streak, looked strong in the early going with good footwork and hand speed as he found Kharitonov's chin repeatedly. But after Arlovski controlled most of the early half of the round, the momentum shifted dramatically when Kharitonov landed a hard overhand right. Arlovski backpedaled against the fence, and Kharitonov followed him there. Working against the cage, Kharitonov drilled Arlovski with an uppercut, then floored him with a right hook. Arlvoski was in big trouble, and Kharitonov wasted no time going for the finish, putting Arlovski out with a left and then a right for good measure.

Kharitonov improved to 18-4 with the win while Arlovski fell to 15-9. Kharitonov will face the winner of April's Josh Barnett-Brett Rogers quarterfinal match.

Shane Del Rosario continued his unbeaten run, improving to 11-0 with a first-round arm bar submission win over Lavar Johnson.

To win, Del Rosario was forced to weather an early storm, as Johnson landed several hard strikes and took him down in the early part of the round before Del Rosario returned to his feet and found his range. He landed a straight left and then took Johnson down off a scramble, quickly moving to full mount before locking in the arm bar.

"I knew he'd pressure me," Del Rosario said. "It's my first fight in seven months. I took some shots and he took me down. He's very strong. I kept my composure, looked for the sub and got it."

With the win, Del Rosario becomes the first alternate to replace any fighter forced out of the Grand Prix for any reason, though in a curious twist, Coker said Emelianenko could be considered to re-join the field as an alternate if he doesn't retire.

In other fights, Valentijn Overeem defeated Ray Sefo in just 97 seconds with a neck crank submission, while Chad Griggs scored a first-round technical knockout win over Gian Villante in a slugfest.

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