Photo by Tracy Lee via Cagewriter
Fans hoping for a slobberknocker in one of 2011's most anticipated fights were let down with authority last night (June 18, 2011) in the main event of Strikeforce: "Overeem vs. Werdum" in Dallas Texas.
In a fight billed as "the ultimate striker versus grappler" match-up, neither man truly allowed the other fighter to get comfortable in his own domain.
Find out how it all went wrong after the jump.
After standing for nearly the first minute of the fight, Fabricio Werdum played his hand early by falling to his back the second Alistair Overeem began to land anything significant
It would be the story of the night. Defending K-1 World Grand Prix kickboxing champion Alistair Overeem seemed content to counter punch and load up on his power strikes. Instead, Fabricio Werdum would lead with hooks and knees and flop to his back, pulling guard whenever Overeem began to open up.
It was gameplan designed to utilize Werdum's strengths on the ground and surprise tactics from the Muay Thai black belt standing but boy did it look ugly.
Overeem refused to engage Werdum on the ground, most often just turning his back to the fighter and waving his finger Dikembe Mutumbo-style and the fans began to get restless.
Finally, in the second round, after it appeared the Brazilian may have injured his knee, Overeem stayed with him on the ground but he was extremely cautious while there, refusing to ground and pound and give the two-time ADCC submission champion an opportunity to catch him in an arm bar or triangle from the bottom and instead simply taking the positional points.
Even then, Overeem would back out of Werdum's guard the second he felt he could be on the verge of being put in trouble. Eventually, "Vai Cavalo" began taking his time getting back to his feet as he began to gas.
When it was all said and done, Overeem was awarded a unanimous decision but it was not something many fans appreciated.
This was a fight where the two men simply respected each other's skills way too much instead of focusing on their own gameplan. Werdum was landing pretty decent strikes while standing but his Anderson Varejao impression every time Overeem landed anything began to get on everyone's nerves. Not only did it look like he didn't even want to try to stand, it made it look like Overeem's strikes were hitting him harder than they were.
For Werdum, who knows what he does from here. He fought a smart fight, even if it was ugly. Forcing Overeem to come to the ground with him by pulling guard repeatedly was probably his best chance of winning the fight but he simply wasn't strong enough to keep Overeem there and sweep or submit him. In the future, he's got to improve his ability to force a fight to the ground offensively if he wants to score brownie points with the fans.
The back-flopping likely didn't impress his new bosses in Zuffa, who likely remember a similar performance against Andrei Arlovski at UFC 70 back in 2007. Werdum could be sidelined for quite a while if his knee really is injured. If it's not serious, he could be matched up fellow main card loser Jeff Monson in what would be an interesting ground battle. Honestly, there aren't a lot of interesting options for Werdum right now, at least not until the semifinals are completed. There's no way he's fed Brett Rogers. I don't think even Scott Coker hates Brett that much.
For Alistair Overeem, this was not the type of performance that leaves a good taste in the fans' mouths. Perhaps it was just a bad style match-up, but "The Reem" allowed Werdum to lead the way with striking and flop to his back while he was countering. The Golden Glory fighter never really got an opportunity to get comfortable in his striking before he was having to worry about backing away from another guard-pulling attempt.
He'll be matched up next with Fedor-smasher Antonio Silva in the semifinals of the Grand Prix. It's highly unlikely that "Bigfoot" shows up with the same gameplan as Werdum, but honestly, who knows at this point? Overeem gassed by the third round and it was pretty apparent that he would have some huge problems with a wrestler like Cain Velasquez if he were matched up with him sometime down the road.
So what did you think Maniacs?
Did Werdum's constant flopping infuriate you? Did Overeem do anything to make you think he could be a UFC champion someday?