I'm not really sure what the popular opinion is here in the MMA blogosphere, which is kind of surprising. The Strikeforce Heavyweight Tournament was announced a little over a week ago, and that equals about 6 months in internet time. That chick Justin Bieber could get a DUI tonight and within two hours my mom would be asking me who she is. So I'm totally going to break new ground here and give my prediction for the eventual winner, and in case you didn't read the banner (did you read the banner?) it's Alistair Overeem. Duh. Now I'm going to break it down for you fanboy style. HEEEERE WE GO.
ALISTAIR OVEREEM VS. FABRICIO WERDUM
This is one of the more interesting of the possible match-ups for the 'Reem. I always like it when promoters somehow manage to find fighters that can fit the "striker vs. grappler" mold. That's going to be harder and harder to do in the future. Anyway. Everyone knows you don't want to go to the ground with Werdum. Overeem and Fedor both made that mistake and paid the price. However, Overeem made that mistake four years ago. 2 1/2 titles (guess which one is worth half) and probably a herd's worth of horse meat later, Overeem is a very different fighter, and is going to be more than up to the task. Has Werdum progressed in that time? You betcha, but unless he can consistently take Alistair down, he doesn't have much of a chance. I'm not sure he's going to be able to do that against an opponent who will probably outweigh him by about 25 pounds without eating some kind of fight-ending strike from a vastly superior kickboxer. Advantage: Overeem.
Alistair Overeem via KO
ALISTAIR OVEREEM VS. FEDOR EMELIANENKO
Ooh baby. Now here's the fight I want to see, and conveniently Scott Coker has done his best to hook us up. I'm fairly confident Fedor will make it past Bigfoot (sorry Bigfoot) and unless you're just skimming this, Overeem will beat Werdum. Thanks, Scotty. Let me know if you're ever in NJ and I'll let you buy me a beer or six. I might even put out. Not only is this my "most-looked-forward-to" fight, but it's going to be one of the most evenly matched of Alistair's seven possible matches. Fedor is a great grappler and a good striker. I say "good" because he's not exactly Muhammed Ali in the ring/cage, but goddamn if he isn't effective (see Arlovski, Andre and Sylvia, Tim, etc. so forth). We need to be honest here, however. Fedor was getting spanked by Arlovski before he had his infamous brain-fart and threw the flying knee. Brett Rogers broke his nose with the first punch he threw and even pulled off a sweep from his back. Admittedly, Fedor stopped both of these fighters with authority, but Overeem is not any of those fighters. Overeem is the best striker in MMA, and he has the credentials to prove it. He's going to make Fedor pay for every mistake he makes on the feet. If Fedor gets it to the ground, he has a chance, but I'm not actually sure that is going to happen. He's giving up size and strength, and you can bet The Demolition Man will be training his TD defense for this one. It's pretty much the same gameplan for Werdum, except Fedor is a better striker. I think Fedor's best chance is to take Overeem into deep water and see what happens. Fedor doesn't seem like much of a game-planner though.
Alistair Overeem via unanimous decision
ALISTAIR OVEREEM VS. ANTONIO SILVA
I'll put this out there right at the beginning. Bigfoot has a very good chance at beating Fedor and making it to the semifinals. They are both good strikers and developed grappling games. This is a very, VERY, even match-up, but we're assuming Bigfoot wins and moves on to the 'Reem. I really don't think Overeem has much to worry about in this fight. Bigfoot has pretty good boxing, but once again, we're dealing with the best striker in MMA. He might have trouble
landing some knees and kicks on that bowling-ball-head that towers 7 feet over the ground, but his fists do a pretty good job of knocking dudes out. Bigfoot may show up for this fight a little bigger than his opponent, but can him take him down and keep him there? Nah. Look for Overeem to land something explosive and jaw-dropping (possibly jaw-BREAKING! Eh?) sometime in the second round. Seriously, Mike Kyle nearly put a 10-8 round on this guy. What's a punch from Overeem going to do?
Alistair Overeem via TKO
ALISTAIR OVEREEM VS. ANDREI ARLOVSKI
Arlovski used to be one of my favorite fighters back in the day. His TKO over Marcio Cruz was awesome, he knocked out Sylvia with the quickest one-two I've ever seen, and he had that fang-mouthguard before Rashad Evans stole his idea and totally ruined it. I was pretty damn excited for the first three minutes of his fight against Fedor. I put twenty bucks down on him against my friend, and it looked like a fresh 18-pack of Coors Light and a pack of cigarettes was in my immediate future, made all the more sweet by the fact that my friend was Mormon and hates both of those things. Then that stupid flying knee. Argh. This is going to be a pretty good striking battle. Arlovski is a very technical striker in his own right. He has speed and power, and he will be a threat to any fighter he faces. He is not a gimme win by any means. Overeem is a better striker though (getting the hint yet?). At this point I'm probably starting to look like someone who wants to buy some real-estate on The Demolition Man's balls (and I'd consider it), but these facts seem sort of self-evident to me. Another TKO.
Alistair Overeem via TKO
ALISTAIR OVEREEM VS. SERGEI KHARITONOV III
Done correctly, the rubber match is one of the most exciting things in combat sports, period. Sometimes one match isn't enough to determine the superior athlete, and if the other guy wins the second time? Magic. And sometimes Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski fuck it up. I actually have to commend Scott Coker again on this one. Very shrewd of you to put Kharitonov on the other side of the bracket, Scotty. If Sergei makes it to the finals, he'll be able to be promoted as
the old-school fighter making a comeback or whatever, AND market the fight on the whole as a rubber match. That's promoting gold right there. And he has a decent chance of making it to Overeem too, but he'll definitely be considered the dark horse of the tournament. So if he does make it, we have a simple equation here:
RUBBER MATCH + UNDERDOG + COMEBACK STORY + LAST GUY OVEREEM LOST TO IN MMA = GOLD!
In all actuality, it wouldn't even be much of a comeback. Kharitonov is a very solid competitor. Just mention how Jeff Monson choked him out super-easily or something. I don't know, I'm not a fight promoter. So how would the fight actually go? It'd be a good one, no doubt. Kharitonov has some good hands on him, and he has that Russian X-factor, but he'll probably lose. This fight will probably look a lot like Overeem vs. Kharitonov I, only instead of getting knees to the head, he'll get punches.
Alistair Overeem via TKO
A quick word of warning, I just cracked open my fifth Coors Light whilst writing this, so if everyone could lower their expectations a little bit from now on, that'd be great. As if anyone is going to read this. Onward and upward!
ALISTAIR OVEREEM VS. JOSH BARNETT
Non-Overeem-related prediction time. Barnett isn't making it past Brett Rogers. This fight will most likely not happen, unless Brett Rogers decides to forego training his TD defense and/or goes anti-Jorge Gurgel and decides to pull guard. Also, here's a nice little tidbit of information I just learned from Wikipedia. "He is the only person in MMA history to test positive for anabolic
steroids three times." This also kind of lends credence to my "Barnett not making it past Rogers" theory because he probably won't ever get the chance. So let's connect some very weird dots and say this fight happens. What is Barnett's best chance to win here? Take Overeem down, of course. Can he? Nah. For that matter, what's Barnett's biggest win in the past two years? Rizzo? Yvel? I know what you're asking. "Hey man, what's Alistair Overeem's best win in the past two years?" It's Brett Rogers, and correct me if I'm wrong, but at the time those two fought, Rogers was ranked in the Top Ten. Long story short, Barnett is rusty and kind of a
can-crusher these days. He'll shoot a couple lazy double-legs, and probably clinch a few times. Then he's going out, hopefully with an awesome knee of some kind. Aren't knockouts via knee strikes the best ever?
Alistair Overeem via KO
ALISTAIR OVEREEM VS. BRETT ROGERS
This fight already happened, and I really don't see it panning out any differently in the rematch, and I'm not going to spend much time on it. Rogers has a puncher's chance in this fight. I personally think Arlovski would win against Rogers 8/10 times and just got caught. Rogers has legitimate skills, but he's just overmatched and outgunned, and the first fight proved it. The second will cement it.
Alistair Overeem via TKO (again)
So there you have it, my totally unofficial predictions for this tournament. The irony is that the person who might have the best chance to win this thing isn't even in the tournament. His name is Daniel Cormier. Is that ironic? Everyone uses that word wrong. Thanks for reading, everyone. Now hopefully Ubereem doesn't make me look dumb