Sergei Kharitonov earned the first semifinal berth in the Strikeforce heavyweight Grand Prix, knocking out Andrei Arlovski at 2:49 in the first round of their bout in New Jersey on Saturday.
Arlovski, a crowd favorite, started strong with a flurry of strikes and kicks. He had good movement early, avoiding Kharitonov's strikes. But it turned bad for Arlovski when Kharitonov used the clinch to work inside, then landed a knee, an uppercut and knocked him to the the ground with a short right jab. Kharitonov finished the bout with a strike on the ground, knocking Arlovski out cold.
This is Arlovski's fourth loss in a row, with three of them first-round knockouts. He was once the UFC heavyweight champion, but now is in a precarious point in his career with a record of 15-9.
Kharitonov, who made his name in the Pride Fighting Championships, laughed off the suggestion that he is a darkhorse in this tournament.
"I don't care what the experts say. I'm going to win this tournament."
He will now face the winner of Josh Barnett and Brett Rogers. Those two will face off in April.