Big round up of news involving heavyweights outside the UFC. First up is the "Fedor-slayer" Fabricio Werdum whose camp is talking about his returning to action in early 2011 and has some clear ideas about who they wants to face. MMA Weekly talks to Werdum's manager Richard Wilner:
"Be it against Alistair (Overeem) for the belt, although Fabricio's already beaten Alistair, so some may see that as a step back, although Alistair is a completely different fighter now. By step back, we absolutely mean no disrespect to Alistair, we just mean that they fought before and while it was a long time ago, I don't even know if it would be considered a rematch, but if it was considered a rematch there's one guy out there that's arguably deserving of a rematch more than Alistair, and that's Fedor (Emelianenko)," Wilner said.
"No disrespect to Josh (Barnett), he's a great competitor, and we know him well, but it makes no sense for us or for Strikeforce as an organization for Josh to be able to step right in and fight Fabricio. He needs to earn that right."
So essentially, Werdum doesn't pick his opponents as long as he gets to fight Fedor next.
Then there's the prodigal Strikeforce heavyweight champ Alistair Overeem, who's done so well so far in K-1's Grand Prix this year that there is serious talk of him winning the whole thing. From Head Kick Legend:
Compare (Overeem vs Ben Edwards) to the first Hari fight, or the Teixeira slaughter last year, and you can see a more advanced display of technique from Overeem. And that makes him a huge threat to the nearly unstoppable champion Semmy Schilt. To beat Schilt, a fighter needs to combine the technical skills to land on Schilt, with the power and aggression to make those shots count. Last night, Overeem may have shown the exact combination of skills needed.
Naturally since Overeem and Schilt are teammates at Holland's Golden Glory Gym, Overeem opted to not fight Schilt in the next round. Only if both men make the finals will they meet. See, kickboxing is a lot like MMA!
Then we've got the case of poor Antonio "Big Foot" Silva who had been expected to face Overeem's brother Valentijn at Strikeforce's December show. MMA Junkie reports that Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker has nixed that bout. Josh Barnett would be the logical opponent, but this being Strikeforce, don't hold your breath.
Now we get to the even less sound footing of a heavyweight MMA career outside Strikeforce. Here's Ben Fowlkes talking to Todd Duffee about the getting cut by the UFC experience:
As for Duffee, he's not entirely sure what he wants to do now. He's reluctant to enter a long-term contract with any other organization, and yet he wants to fight as much as possible in the coming year.
Perhaps the hardest part, he said, are those awkward conversations with strangers on airplanes or at parties. At some point, it's inevitable that someone will ask him what he does for a living. That's when he has to tell people that he used to be a UFC fighter.
"I'm back to where it's kind of hard to admit that I'm a fighter. When I finally made it into the UFC, all the people who thought I was stupid for pursuing this sort of shut up about it. You could tell people, 'I'm in the UFC.' Now I'm back to where I don't really want to tell people what I do."
Here's one bit of unsolicited career advice for Mr. Duffee: don't sign any contracts with Bellator without talking to Dave "Pee Wee" Herman first. Not only did Herman have to engage in a protracted legal battle when he alleged Bellator didn't fulfill their contractual obligations, they then prevented him from fighting elsewhere. As a final kick in the teeth, the settlement fight that they gave him at Bellator 31 was on the unaired undercard. There is video of Herman's fight with Michal Kita in the full entry. It's kind of sad to see Herman's corner unfurl his sponsorship banner knowing that he had to give them all their money back when the fight didn't air.
But for his part, Herman holds no grudges, from our own Jonathan Snowden's interview with Herman:
"After this fight I should be free. I wouldn't mind fighting for Bellator again after this on a single bout basis if they want me back. Any time a fight opportunity comes up, I'd like to take advantage of it. Hopefully this won't be my last fight for Bellator," the fighter ironically nicknamed "Pee Wee said. "...I don't really hold a grudge. Once everything is worked out I'm happy. They're happy. Hopefully everything will be good."
Between Strikeforce's disorganization and Bellator's onerous contractual requirements, I would not care to be a heavyweight MMA fighter who is outside the UFC looking in.
Contrast the situation of Dave Herman or Shane Del Rosario or even proven stars like Alistair Overeem and Antonio Silva with the lots of UFC fighters Brendan Schaub and Shane Carwin. Instead of wondering if and when he'll fight next and whether anyone will see it, Schaub knows that if he gets past formidable UFC gatekeeper Gabriel Gonzaga, he's in the title picture. Carwin doesn't know who he'll be facing in his next fight, but he knows it will be on one of the biggest PPV events of the year and that if he wins, he'll be only one more fight away from a title shot.
Meanwhile, I predict that Scott Coker will have to call in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to get the Fedor/Overeem/Werdum situation negotiated.
Watch Dave Herman win a fight with an omaplata in the full entry.
Here's the entire unaired undercard from Bellator 31. Dave Herman's omaplata submission win is the second fight (starts about 5 minutes in):