Alistair Overeem paid back Fabricio Werdum for a previous loss by eliminating Werdum from the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix. While the win advances the Demolition Man in the tournament, it was hardly the impressive performance fans hoped to see from the champion.
Alistair Overeem and Fabricio Werdum did their best imitation of the infamous Muhammad Ali vs. Antonio Inoki fight of 1976. The lackluster main-event saw Werdum blatantly lay on the canvas for most of the fight, challenging Overeem to go to the mat while the Strikeforce heavyweight champion opted to stay on his feet. This was hardly the flurry of fast action Strikeforce fans have been accustomed to seeing from their champion.
Overeem promised fans and media that he would swarm in for a knockout but that never happened. On the one hand, Overeem silenced critics that said he hasn’t fought any elite competition in MMA. Overeem won a unanimous decision over a guy that some thought was the most dangerous man in the tournament. On the other hand, it was hardly the dominant performance Overeem predicted. I think a little bloom came off that rose tonight even with the win. Overeem had a lot of attention on him coming into the tournament and arguably failed to live up to the hype.
Now keep in mind that Overeem can put all of this behind him by winning the tournament. Many will forget about the disappointing fight with Werdum if he beats Silva and Barnett to win the tournament. He has a real rough road ahead of him with Silva and Barnett if Barnett wins his next fight. Overeem certainly lives up to the hype with a tournament win regardless of what happened in Dallas.
Maybe I am being a bit overdramatic here, but I think Fabricio Werdum just blew any chance he ever had of returning to the UFC. Werdum’s performance is the kind of a performance that Dana White would rip apart if it were on a UFC show. I get the strategy but this is MMA, not an Abu Dhabi tournament. I can’t imagine anyone in their right mind that would ever pay to see Fabricio Werdum fight after watching this. Any good will he had with the MMA community after defeating Fedor Emelianenko was lost after tonight’s shenanigans.
Overeem moves to the semi-finals to meet “Big Foot” Antonio Silva. Once again Overeem finds himself matched up against a highly decorated grappler. Overeem will get his opportunities to strike with Silva. However, Silva will have the size advantage and will look to smother him on the ground with ground and pound like he did to Emelianenko. It should be a real interesting fight although I can’t imagine anyone getting too excited over seeing Alistair Overeem fight another Brazilian Jiu Jitsu specialist in Strikeforce.
The “Babyface Assassin” Josh Barnett returned to MMA with a vengeance tonight. Barnett put on a wrestling clinic against the over matched Brett Rogers. Barnett slammed Rogers seconds into the fight and dominated him for the next round and half on the ground. Barnett just laid on top of Rogers and tired out the big man which while not necessarily exciting, was pretty intense. Barnett finished the fight in the second round with an arm triangle choke. Barnett proceeded to cut an awesome pro wrestling style promo following the win.
Barnett will move on to the semi-final round and fight Sergei Kharitonov. Kharitonov is a lot like Brett Rogers, just a little more seasoned. Kharitonov is certainly not a pushover as he holds a knock out win over Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem. However, I think the fight plays out almost identical to how Barnett’s fight played out tonight against Rogers.
So, the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix semi-finals will move on with Overeem vs. Silva and Kharitonov vs. Barnett. In typical Strikeforce fashion, there was no announcement made as to when the semi-finals would actually take place. Scott Coker did say on a conference call a couple of weeks ago that he was looking to host the semis in the fall. I would look for an October date with a January date set up for the finals. Then again, in Strikeforce this thing could be held off for another eight months.
On a side note, I love Gus Johnson the NCAA announcer but Gus Johnson the Strikeforce announcer is just pitiful. The guy was either sleeping or completely bored for the entire night, which I can definitely empathize with him when it came to the main-event. However, he is devoid of any emotion and just looks completely disinterested when he steps into the cage after the fights to do post-fight interviews or when he calls the fights. Gus I am begging you, just pretend to care…at least for one or two fights a night.
Full Strikeforce: Overeem vs. Werdum fight results
Alistair Overeem defeated Fabricio Werdum via unanimous decision
Josh Barnett defeated Brett Rogers via submission
Jorge Masvidal defeated K.J. Noons via unanimous decision
Daniel Cormier defeated Jeff Monson via unanimous decision
Chad Griggs defeated Valentijn Overeem via TKO – Round 1
Todd Moore defeated Mike Bronzoulis via unanimous decision
Justin Wilcox vs. Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante ruled a no-decision
Conor Heun defeated Magno Almeida via unanimous decision
Nah-Shon Burrell defeated Joe Ray via unanimous decision
Isaac Vallie-Flagg defeated Brian Melancon via split-decision
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