Home > Event Preview > Strikeforce – Overeem vs. Werdum Preview

Strikeforce – Overeem vs. Werdum Preview

I am excited for tonight’s Strikeforce event because big dudes are going to punch each other in the head until someone is unconscious.  Five of the world’s top 25 heavyweights are in action and we’ll know the last two fighters who advance to the semifinals of Strikeforce’s Heavyweight Grand Prix.

There are basically seven fights tonight that matter: four in the heavyweight division and three in the lightweight division (and even then, the Griggs/Overeem fight is more fun than it is relevant).  K.J. Noons and Jorge Masvidal square off in what should be a competitive lightweight fight, while Gesias Cavalcante makes his long awaited return to Strikeforce against Justin Wilcox.  Conor Heun and Magno Almeida will also be in action.

Strikeforce: Overeem vs. Werdum is live tonight on Showtime at 10:00 PM EST/9:00 PM CST.  The preliminary fights will also be airing live on HDNet at 8:00 PM EST/7:00 PM CST.  Here’s yet another reason why not having HDNet sucks.  Then again, I’ll be attending a Hmong wedding earlier in the day and would probably miss the prelims anyway.  Still, HDNet should offer me these fights whether or not I’m attending a culturally unique wedding ceremony.

Heavyweight Grand Prix Quarterfinals: Alistair Overeem (34-11, 1 NC, No. 5 HW) vs. Fabricio Werdum (14-4-1, No. 3 HW)

Overeem: Supremely talented and strong kickboxer with a 10-4 kickboxing record, 2010 K-1 World Grand Prix Champion, also has submission experience as the 2005 Abu Dhabi Combat Club European Champion, has 14 career (T)KO wins and 19 career submission wins with a single decision victory, reigning Strikeforce and DREAM Heavyweight Champion, last lost in September 2007 to Sergei Kharitonov, has gone 9-0 with one no contest going back to November 2007, last defeated Todd Duffee in December 2010.

Werdum: Outstanding grappler, 2nd degree Brazilian Ju-Jitsu black belt who also has black belts in judo and Muay Thai, 2007 and 2009 ADCC Champion, holds eight career submission victories, submitted Alistair Overeem while fighting for PRIDE in 2006, has won each of his last three fights by defeating Mike Kyle, Antonio Silva, and Fedor Emelianenko, was strangely cut from the UFC after a TKO loss to Junior dos Santos in October 2008, nicknamed “Vai Cavalo” which awesomely translates to “go-horse.”

Remarks: I am very, very excited for this fight.  I’m probably more excited for this heavyweight fight than I was for Brock Lesnar vs. Cain Velasquez.  Here we have two of the top five heavyweights in the world, one a multiple time ADCC World Champion and the other a K-1 Grand Prix Champion.  Consider that this fight is in the quarterfinals of Strikeforce’s Heavyweight Grand Prix and we’re in for an amazing fight.

Despite Werdum being the highest ranked fighter in the tournament, I think this will be Overeem’s tournament to lose.  While Alistair has perhaps not faced the strongest MMA competition over the last few years, you need to also consider his kickboxing accomplishments including wins over Gokhan Saki and Peter Aerts in the 2010 K-1 World Grand Prix.  Werdum’s striking is nowhere near the caliber of Overeem’s, though his TKO wins over Brandon Vera and Gabriel Gonzaga in the UFC are impressive wins.

Werdum’s grappling is tremendous and will definitely be his advantage, but I think that Overeem is too strong and too good and will keep this fight from going to the ground.  Overeem’s grappling is good, and though he doesn’t compare to Werdum, he could capably defend himself using his amazing combination of skill and strength.  With his massive frame and a nearly four inch reach advantage, I really like Overeem’s chances of scoring a big knockout win in this fight.  I also think that whoever wins this fight will win the entire Heavyweight Grand Prix.

Heavyweight Grand Prix Quarterfinals: Josh Barnett (26-5, No. 11 HW) vs. Brett Rogers (11-2, No. 16 HW)

Barnett: Submission grappler and catch wrestler with 17 submission wins, was gifted a BJJ black belt by Erik Paulson, has recently gone 6-0 defeating fighters like Jeff Monson, Pedro Rizzo, and Gilbert Yvel, former UFC Heavyweight Champion, defeated Gan McGee in the only super heavyweight fight in UFC history, has tested positive for steroids on multiple occasions and notably prior to his Affliction fight with Fedor Emelianenko, has competed in professional wrestling for New Japan Pro Wrestling and the Inoki Genome Federation.

Rogers: Heavy handed boxer with 10 of 11 wins via strikes, lost his last two Strikeforce fights against Alistair Overeem and Fedor Emelianenko, impressively defeated Andrei Arlovski by knockout in 22 seconds in June 2009, won his last fight against Ruben Villareal for the W-1 promotion in October 2010.

Remarks: The only way that Brett Rogers will win this fight is by knockout.  Josh Barnett has only ever been knocked out once in his career and that was more than ten years ago.  I’m not sure that Rogers will be able to pull this off, though crazier things have happened in MMA.  Barnett is a very experienced fighter and a talented grappler and I don’t think he’ll have much trouble avoiding Rogers’ powerful boxing.

Rogers hasn’t had a ton of success on the ground in his career, but that could be because we haven’t seen him on the ground very much.  He briefly imposed his will against Fedor, but the Russian survived the onslaught and was able to escape.  Rogers was also manhandled on the ground in his fight with Overeem, but he’s a much stronger fighter than Josh Barnett.  Still, I don’t like Rogers’ chances in this fight and I anticipate him being submitted by Barnett.

Heavyweight: Jeff Monson (42-11, No. 22 HW) vs. Daniel Cormier (7-0)

Monson: NCAA Division 1 wrestler at Oregon State and the University of Illinois, BJJ black belt holding 26 submission victories, 8-0 since July 2010 last defeating Tony Lopez and Maro Perak in April 2010, fought nine times in 2010, went 4-3 during his time in the UFC, defeated Kazuyuki Fujita in the very last fight for PRIDE, noted anarchist, nicknamed “Snowman”.

Cormier: Also an NCAA Division 1 wrestler, finished second in the nation wrestling at Oklahoma State, 2008 Olympian who could not compete due to health issues, gold medalist at the 2003 Pan-Am Games, three submission wins and three (T)KO victories in his young career, training out of the American Kickboxing Academy, holds Strikeforce victories over Jason Riley and Devin Cole.

Remarks: I had no idea that Jeff Monson attended the University of Illinois!  As a proud U of I graduate, I’m ashamed to say that this is the very first time I’ve heard this.  Monson actually did pretty well for himself in the 1993 NCAA Division 1 Wrestling tournament, though his 2-2 record wasn’t enough to place in the 190 pound division.

I know that Cormier is a rising heavyweight star with outstanding wrestling, but I have no choice but to pick Monson.  I have to start making up for years of obliviousness to Monson’s status as an Illinois alum and it begins right now.  I predict that Jeff Monson will never lose another fight in his MMA career.  He will merge the Strikeforce and UFC Heavyweight Titles and be forever known as the greatest fighter in MMA history.  There is no way that this won’t happen.  Monson by submission, book it!

Heavyweight: Valentijn Overeem (29-25) vs. Chad Griggs (10-1)

Overeem: Older brother of Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem, has a similar repertoire though is not as skilled as his brother, holds 11 career (T)KO wins while 17 wins have come by submission, was once 18-9 before losing nine of his next ten fights, has won his last three fights with victories over Tengiz Tedoradze and Ray Sefo.

Griggs: Very powerful, though imprecise boxer with nine of ten wins by (T)KO, has gone 2-0 in Strikeforce defeating prospects Gianpiero Villante and former WWE star Bobby Lashley, went 1-1 during his time in the IFL with a win over John Marsh, has notable sideburns.

Remarks: I will make no bones about the fact that I love Chad Griggs.  I was very pumped when Griggs defeated the unlikeable Lashley in his Strikeforce debut.  The Villante fight reinforced Griggs’ reputation as a tough and exciting striker.  However, if Bobby Lashley was a bit more of a fighter, he would have disposed of Griggs no problem.  It takes a special fighter to do absolutely nothing from full mount and Griggs was lucky to have faced that man.  Overeem has had a measure of success in MMA, though it’s never good to see a fighter who has split wins and losses in nearly 60 contests.

Overeem is a capable fighter on the ground, as is evident in his 17 career submission victories.  If he’s going to win the fight, it has to be there.  Overeem might have some good kickboxing, but there’s no way he’s going to knockout Chad Griggs.  Griggs is hard headed and hard handed, both being things Overeem won’t want to contend with.  It didn’t take Overeem long to realize he needed to take down and submit Ray Sefo and that should be his approach here.  Chad Griggs does have some background in wrestling and I suspect it might be enough to keep this fight standing.  I’ll go out on a limb and choose Griggs by TKO, if only because Griggs has tremendous sideburns.  I do think this will be a pretty interesting fight, but it certainly won’t be a technical masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination.

Lightweight: K.J. Noons (10-3) vs. Jorge Masvidal (21-6)

Noons: Kempo karate black belt with boxing and kickboxing experience, holds eight career (T)KO victories, went 11-2 as a professional boxer from 2004 through 2009, unsuccessfully challenged Nick Diaz for his Strikeforce Welterweight Title in October 2010, former EliteXC Lightweight Champion, last competed at lightweight when he defeated Andre Amade at DREAM 13.

Masvidal: Another boxer with very good hands, ten career (T)KO wins, last defeated Billy Evangelista in March 2011, has previously competed for Bellator, Sengoku, Bodog Fight, and Shark Fights, Bellator season one lightweight tournament competitor losing to Toby Imada in the semifinals.

Remarks: Both of these fighters love to throw big punches, but it’s also important to note that Masvidal and Noons have only been knocked out once each in their career.  They both have very good power and good chins.  I know we’re going to see some great striking, but I don’t think we’ll see a finish in this fight.  Noons seems to be a bit more technical of a striker and has more consistently won fights.  Masvidal has lost three of his last seven fights, including a notable submission loss to Toby Imada via inverted triangle.  I think I like Noons to take a decision victory, but this will be a very close and very entertaining fight with the winner likely facing Gilbert Melendez for Strikeforce’s Lightweight Title.

Lightweight: Gesias Cavalcante (15-4-1, 1 NC, No. 21 LW) vs. Justin Wilcox (11-3)

Cavalcante: BJJ practitioner and kickboxer, five career (T)KO wins with seven career submissions, 2006 Hero’s Middleweight Grand Prix winner after defeating Hiroyuki Takaya, Rani Yahya, and Caol Uno, 1-3 with one no contest in his last five fights, the no contest coming from illegal elbows thrown against Shinya Aoki, has previously competed for DREAM and Shooto, lost to Josh Thomson in his Strikeforce debut.

Wilcox: Collegiate wrestler with kickboxing experience, trains out of AKA, eight of his 11 wins have been by decision, three of his last four fights have gone to a decision, has gone 5-1 in Strikeforce with victories over Daisuke Nakamura, Shamar Bailey, and Vitor Ribeiro.

Remarks: This is another interesting lightweight contest, though I think I favor Cavalcante in this one.  Wilcox has done a lot of winning, but it’s been against some of the more average to below average lightweights.  Interestingly enough, Wilcox’s last two opponents (Ribeiro and Damm) had been in the midst of longer losing streaks similar to Cavalcante’s (Ribeiro and Damm had lost four of five fights).

Cavalcante’s losses haven’t been all that bad considering they’ve been to three ranked fighters (Aoki, Thomson, and Tatsuya Kawajiri), but he might have trouble against a wrestler like Wilcox.  Wilcox will want to grind this out and control the fight en route to a decision victory and I’m not sure that Cavalcante will be able to keep that from happening.  I’ll take Wilcox for the decision win and the upset in this one.

Lightweight: Conor Heun (8-4) vs. Magno Almeida (9-1, 1 NC)

Heun: BJJ brown belt with wrestling experience, five of eight wins have come by submission, lost his last two fights to Jorge Gurgel and K.J. Noons, former IFL competitor who went 2-1 for the promotion losing to L.C. Davis, also went 2-0 while fighting for EliteXC.

Almeida: BJJ black belt with 8 wins via submission, last defeated WEC veteran Mike Campbell in September for the CES promotion, making his Strikeforce debut at this event.

Remarks: There isn’t a whole lot of information out there about Almeida, but one thing we know for sure is that he likes submissions.  Heun is similarly submission oriented, though he doesn’t quite have the record of Almeida.  Heun has been tested against better competition, coming very close to defeating K.J. Noons last June.

In fact, Heun has fought pretty inconsistently over the last three year with fights in June 2009, June 2010, and now June 2011.  Almeida stated busy with three submission wins in 2010.  I don’t think that either man will be submitted in this contest, but I’ll take Almeida by decision.  I think he’s the better Jiu-Jitsu practitioner and will do enough to score the win.

Welterweight: Todd Moore (13-4) vs. Mike Bronzoulis (12-2-1)

Lightweight: Brian Melancon (5-1) vs. Isaac Vallie-Flagg (11-3-1)

Welterweight: Nah-Shon Burrell (5-1) vs. Joe Ray (5-1)

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