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Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix results: Quick reactions to 'Overeem vs Werdum' fight card largely negative

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Emotions are a crux of the human condition.

We all too often fall prey to the uneven and largely illogical leanings of our natural predisposition to overreact to what we see, hear and feel.

Such is the case with the Strikeforce: "Overeem vs. Werdum" event last night (June 18, 2011) at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.

The show featured the continuation of the heavyweight grand prix tournament, with match-ups pitting Alistair Overeem vs. Fabricio Werdum and Josh Barnett vs. Brett Rogers.

It was supported with a strong undercard, one that delivered in the form of Chad Griggs destruction of Valentijn Overeem, Jorge Masvidal's outstanding performance against K.J. Noons and Daniel Cormier growing up before our eyes in his battering of Jeff Monson.

You won't find many complaints with those three fights. They all showcased various feats of excellence, with plenty of excitement and thrills to go around.

As is usually the case, though, the folks that tuned into Showtime did so for the main event(s).

And everyone -- and I mean everyone -- is pissed.

For starters, the general reaction to Barnett submitting Rogers was notable for the fact that there really wasn't one ... at least not as far as this fight goes. After all, nobody was going to be surprised at the manner in which it played out.

The suddenly not so bloated tire technician isn't exactly the most athletically gifted fighter on the block. His outlook was "Grim" from the outset, as his skills simply couldn't match up with that of "The Baby Faced Assassin."

So it was no big shocker when Barnett mopped the floor with Rogers and finished him like this (via


It says plenty about a bout when the post-fight speech delivered by the winner is more memorable than the actual fight itself.

But again, no one was caught off guard here. This was more or less the expected outcome and the right side of the tournament bracket moves along as was predicted.

Then the main event.

When Alistair Overeem and Fabricio Werdum fought for the first time in Pride all the way back in 2006, the mixed martial arts world was an entirely different place.

"Vai Cavalo" submitted "The Reem" in that fight with a kimura in the second round.

Five years later, the "Demolition Man" was finally given the chance to exact his revenge. He could do so when Werdum's star is at its brightest after winning his past three fights, the last of which was a shocking triangle tapout of legendary Russian heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko.

A date in the second round of the grand prix was also on the line, with Antonio Silva awaiting the winner.

There was an awful lot on the line for both fighters. That's what made the fight so bizarre -- or, perhaps, predictable in its outcome but unexpected in its delivery.

Overeem, unsurprisingly, wanted nothing to do with the Brazilian on the ground, and took every measure to avoid contesting the fight in that capacity.

Werdum, also unsurprisingly, wished to utilize his most effective weapon and repeatedly attempted to snare the deadly Dutchman within his jiu-jitsu trap.

All well and good but the actual carrying out of each fighters strategy made for a disaster of a fight.

Here's an example (via IronForgesIron):


Overeem's sprawl and brawl tactics were effective in that he, for the most part, didn't allow Werdum to take him to the floor and put him in a dangerous position.

Where the issue comes in is the repeated "gamesmanship" exhibited by both men.

Taunting one another for not wanting to play directly into the hands of each other seems downright silly. It was comical initially, as the cat and mouse game can be fun at times.

That didn't last long, though.

One last .gif to illustrate (again via IronForgesIron):


I can almost hear the collective sigh from last night just watching this again.

One cannot fault Werdum for his strategy of feigning injury to bait Overeem to follow him to the floor. He was successful when he did this to Fedor, locking him up and forcing the tap.

If it worked against the greatest heavyweight ever, why not try it again, right?

Here's the thing: playing possum is cute -- at first. But when it becomes clear that it's a lame duck strategy, it's nothing short of annoying when the employer of said tactics refuses to adjust his plan of action.

Further adding to the disgust is the Brazilian's decision to repeatedly wag his finger at his foe. Not only was it a vexing form of teasing "The Reem," it also made zero sense.

That particular gesture implies that it would be silly for Overeem to follow him to the ground. Which is, of course, the truth. But that's what Werdum wanted. So essentially he's telling Alistair not to do something he wants (and basically needs) him to do.

Color me confounded.

By the time it was said and done (which seemed like forever and a day), the Strikeforce heavyweight champion remained unbeaten over the past four years.

But he didn't exactly impress on his way to victory.

Even through all that, though, the most egregious happening last night was the immediate reaction from the media and fans alike to what they witnessed.

Suddenly Antonio Silva is the "easy front-runner" to win the whole tournament. After all, he's the one who looked the most impressive in his bout, against the toughest of competition.

It's almost as if Overeem is simply a dead man walking and there's no need to even stage his contest against "Bigfoot" later this year.

While it's undoubtedly a tough match-up for the "Demolition Man," he's no sitting duck and one bizarre performance shouldn't suddenly make him one.

Over on the other side, Barnett is now also a "dark horse" candidate to win the grand prix, thanks to his utter and complete domination of Rogers.

Again, let's not overreact to the combined efforts of all involved.

Barnett himself made sure to put his coming opponent, Sergei Kharitonov, on a pedestal, likely to remind fans just as much as himself of the challenges he presents.

Which is to say, he's worlds apart from Rogers in nearly every aspect of the fight game.

As I alluded to previously, emotions are difficult to deal with at times. They run high and just as quickly run low, making it all the more difficult to interpret and digest information to come to well thought out and logically reasoned conclusions.

This is why they say you should "sleep on it."

This is what I've done and hopefully, by now, you have too. My conclusions? That Overeem showed a few deficiencies in his game, even his vaunted K-1 champion striking, but is still one of, if not the, most dangerous man in the field.

Werdum is still an amazing jiu-jitsu player but has issues in his game that must be addressed, namely his wrestling and inability to play to his own strengths with the skill-set he currently possesses.

Barnett is who we thought he was and he certainly didn't let Rogers off the hook, who also is who we thought he was. We'll know a lot more about both Barnett and Kharitonov (who exerted little energy in his opening round fight, a knockout win over Andrei Arlovski) when they square off later this year.

Yes, last night was largely an abomination for the heavyweights. But it did lead to two extremely compelling match-ups in the semifinals, fights that should provide a helluva lot more entertainment.

At least, that's my opinion. What's yours?