Top ten, or not top ten?
That is the question ... at least for some fight fans who view the Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion as a glorified can crusher who's yet to be tested since leaving the now-defunct PRIDE organization.
"Demolition Man" will try to avenge a 2006 submission loss to Fabricio Werdum when they meet in the quarterfinals of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Tournament on June 18 in Dallas, Texas.
Overeem (34-11) tossed his way to a first round technical knockout victory over the hard-hitting Brett Rogers at last May's "Heavy Artillery" event to notch his first win as a Strikeforce employee since he creamed Paul Buentello to capture the division title over three years ago.
In addition to his stoppage over "The Headhunter," the deadly Dutchman has gone ten straight fights without a defeat, making a mockery of Todd Duffee's best intentions at FieLDS Dynamite!! earlier this year. In his spare time, he plowed through the competition to capture K-1's 2010 World Grand Prix in Japan.
Does that qualify him as a top ten heavyweight? Maybe, maybe not, but he tells LowKick.com that a win over "Vai Cavalo" in "The Lone Star State" is sure to "close the debate:"
"You can’t use mathematics in fighting. You have to fight the person yourself to say that you are the better man. But I have to agree that a win over Werdum will close the debate if I’m a Top 10 fighter or not. I heard him saying that I’m his son, but I don't understand what he really means. I think he means that he’s superior then me, because he beat me a couple of years ago. I think it’s a lost in translation thing. My main focus is on winning the Strikeforce tournament, so UFC is not on my mind right now. I’ve always stated that the Heavyweight division in Strikeforce has the best fighters and I still think so. But still, it would be foolish to say that the UFC heavyweight fighters are not good. The guys you named are all very dangerous fighters that can finish fights. Carwin has great knockout power, Brock is a great wrestler and athlete, Frank Mir improved his stand-up and has a good ground game and the champion Cain Velasquez is very durable and has great wrestling. So those fighters are world-class for sure."
"The Reem" certainly has momentum on his side, but will it matter against the grappling prowess of Werdum?
Once labeled as a UFC castaway, the Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) champion put together back-to-back wins following an August 2009 Strikeforce debut.
After disposing of Mike Kyle and Antonio Silva, Werdum (14-4-1) was rewarded with a main event against Fedor Emelianenko, shocking the Russian (and the rest of the world) with a first round upset win via triangle choke.
His victory over "The Last Emperor" made an Overeem rematch all but a foregone conclusion.
Who will emerge victorious at "Overeem vs. Werdum" on June 18? And where do you rank the winner in your list of top ten heavyweights -- if at all?