The second half of the first leg of the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix continues tonight (June 18, 2011) in Dallas, Texas at the "Overeem vs. Werdum" event.
And while there has been an absolute overload of mixed martial arts action over the past few weeks, perhaps no fight card feels more significant than the one going down tonight at the American Airlines Center.
That's because the San Jose boys have managed to bring together eight of the top heavyweights in the world for an intriguing tournament full of compelling match-ups.
But they've also, perhaps unwittingly, put together a rather unique blend of talent that represents a new school form of old school style stalwarts, from Bas Rutten to Tank Abbott.
Here's an example to whet your whistle, but remember to head on over for the full list of pairings:
Style: Dutch Kickboxing
1990s Analogue: Bas Rutten
Holland is a tiny country that's had an outsize impact on combat sports. Starting with the gangster-kickboxer Jan Plas who trained Japanese Kyokushin Karate and brought modern kickboxing to Holland in 1978 with the opening of his Meijiro Gym in Amsterdam. Plas' student Rob Kamen added a big helping of Muay Thai to his repertoire and became one of the greatest kickboxers of all time.
The Japanese pro-wrestlers who created the proto-MMA events like Pancrase, Shooto and Rings paid close attention and recruited many Dutch fighters to compete in their promotions. None more successfully than the legendary Bas Rutten who became the King of Pancrase and later the UFC heavyweight champion. Rutten pioneered the template that Dutch fighters have followed ever since: devastating Muay Thai/Kyokushin striking combined with effective submission grappling.
Alistair Overeem is currently the most fearsome living exponent of that style. He's the first fighter to hold a major MMA title and the K-1 kickboxing championship at the same time. He's got excellent striking technique, awesome power and the submission skills to finish a stunned opponent with a nice range of holds.
I'm sure you can guess who the previously mentioned Abbott pairs up with but the other two? Go find out.