To some, Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva has become the favorite to win the Strikeforce heavyweight Grand Prix tournament.
A sizable underdog in his preliminary matchup with the legendary Fedor "The Last Emperor" Emelianenko, Silva dominated the Russian securing a doctor's stoppage after the second round to advance in the tournament.
With the removal of Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem this past week citing a toe injury, Silva will now face the undefeated Daniel Cormier on September 10 in the tournament semifinals.
Winner of the semifinal bout will face either Josh Barnett or Sergei Kharitonov in the finals.
At 6'4", 265-plus pounds, Silva is a behemoth of a man. A challenging skill-set, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt utilizes his size advantage on the ground and transitions seamlessly into advantageous positions where he can deliver heavy bombs in the ground and pound.
Solid on his feet, Silva has shown above average boxing skills and the ability to defeat opponents standing with 11 knockout victories.
Suffering through less than stellar performances in the past, the first round against Mike Kyle in December of 2010 and a unanimous decision defeat to fellow Brazilian Fabricio Werdum in November of 2009, "Bigfoot" has improved on his deficiencies inside the cage and is evolving into a complete fighter.
Assuming Antonio Silva wins the Strikeforce heavyweight tournament, talk with ensue regarding how this champion compares against the top-tier talent inside the UFC heavyweight roster.
Please take a theoretical walk with me as I analyze the skill set of Silva against the top five heavyweights within the UFC.
All debate aside, these five heavyweights are ranked according to Sherdog.com.
Additionally, I have eliminated any fighter on the rankings who is currently contracted with Strikeforce.
I welcome your comments.