The past weekend's array of combative sports' action offered many fans a look into two of MMA's most influential pieces to a fighter's skill-set. Not only were fans treated to seeing some of the most devastating kickboxers in the world at the K-1 World Grand Prix 2009 Final 16 event in Seoul, South Korea, but MMA fans were also given the opportunity to view the Abu Dhabi Combat Club world grappling tournament that featured a plethora of well-known mixed martial arts fighters. While the arguments are that both Werdum and Overeem have added some interest to bouts with Fedor due to their wins this weekend, I think Overeem only gained the potential to add a lot of interest down the road while Werdum didn't add any interest to a showdown.
As Kid Nate pointed out earlier, some writers have pointed to the potential benefits from having both Alistair Overeem and Fabricio Werdum participate in K-1 and the ADCC tournament respectively. Michael David Smith lays claim that Strikeforce could promote Overeem as the best heavyweight striker in MMA due to his win over Peter Aerts at the K-1 WGP Final 16, and Fabricio Werdum as the best heavyweight grappler in MMA due to his tournament win at the ADCC event.
Casual fans may believe those claims, but hardcore fans aren't that easy to trick. Fabricio Werdum was already considered to be one of the heavyweight division's best grapplers in mixed martial arts. He only solidified that statement with his win this weekend. Instead of saying that Werdum is one of the best grapplers, we can now say that he is the best heavyweight grappler? There isn't much distinction there, and I doubt casual fans will become overly excited about a Werdum vs. Fedor showdown when they hear the words "ADCC champion" sound out of their televisions.
Overeem's advancement to the World Grand Prix Final is more of a story than Werdum's accomplishment. Stating that Overeem is the best striker in the MMA's heavyweight division because he won a K-1 fight against a former three-time champion is a bit unfair considering the lack of crossover athletes to K-1 from MMA. I understand it's all about the marketing of the moniker, but it's a bit ridiculous. The potential of the situation is the true benefit to Strikeforce because Overeem may have the chance to truly prove he is one of the best strikers in the entire world, MMA or K-1. Defeating a fighter like Semmy Schilt or Remy Bonjasky within the context of their own sport would be huge, and Strikeforce could leverage that win in a couple of different ways.
Most notably, Strikeforce has talked about the possibility of holding a co-promoted event with DREAM in Japan. Whether this is simply a loan of fighters with a revenue share or an actual 50/50 split down the middle, Overeem's presence in K-1 could add interest to the co-promoted events between DREAM and Strikeforce, especially if he happens to win the K-1 WGP Final. The win would likely garner more interest in a Fedor vs. Overeem showdown in the States among hardcore fans, but it would also potentially drive a lot of K-1 fans in Japan to co-promoted events featuring Overeem. If Strikeforce could somehow co-promote a Fedor vs. Overeem showdown that worked into DREAM's television deal, it could do some big numbers overseas. It's a longshot possibility, but there isn't much more Strikeforce can leverage from Overeem's run in K-1 other than the added credentials.
I think it's a bit premature to believe Overeem's win over Aerts will suddenly give Strikeforce some sort of marketing edge in promoting a "best striker in the world" against "best fighter in the world" showdown with Fedor Emelianenko. Werdum's accomplishment, while a great individual feat, doesn't help Strikeforce. He was already considered a top-notch grappler in the heavyweight division, and the win at ADCC over the weekend isn't going to cause a stir among casual fans wondering who will fight Fedor. Overeem's accomplishments overseas have the potential to do so with the right marketing, and if he actually manages to win the K-1 Grand Prix... the skill gap that most fans immediately assume between the two fighters will becoming closer, adding more interest.