Not many were surprised that Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem defeated Brett Rogers in his first title defense since 2007. But at the same time, not many expected the complete and total beat down that Overeem put on Rogers.
At Strikeforce: Heavy Artillery, Overeem defeated Rogers by simply out-muscling the physically bigger challenger. During weigh-ins the night before the fights, Overeem weighed in at 253 pounds while Rogers was listed at 264, and likely had to cut to make the heavyweight limit by just one pound. Nevertheless, Overeem backed Rogers into corners and threw him around like a schoolyard bully. After tossing the challenger to the canvas with brute force, the champ delivered brutal ground and pound until the fight was stopped at 3:40 of round one.
Overeem did to Rogers what Rogers did against Fedor Emelianenko in his previous fight. And Rogers was ever so successful in doing that.
The clear-cut next step for Alistair Overeem is a title defense against the legendary Fedor Emelianenko. Overeem obviously thinks so, as he called out The Last Emperor shortly after his victory Saturday night. Even the ever-stubborn M-1 Global seemed open to a title fight against Overeem, as M-1 Executive Evgeni Kogan quoted, "If Overeem is presented by the Strikeforce matchmakers as Fedor's next opponent, then that is who Fedor is going to fight."
Overeem presents an extremely difficult match-up for Fedor. As I mentioned before, Emelianenko was getting sufficiently damaged by Roger’s ground and pound, most of which came from the significant physical size and power Rogers had over Fedor. Overeem showed on Saturday that he his capable of the same thing, only faster and stronger.
Can Fedor take punishment from Overeem like he did with Rogers? In his last fight, Fedor brutally knocked out Brett Rogers by capitalizing on the holes in Rogers’ slow, looping hooks. Overeem is a much more polished striker, and even though it’s a cliché, the term "K-1 level kickboxer" does hold significant meaning. Overeem is much less likely to be caught with a haymaker like the one that KO’d Rogers.
I am not explicitly saying that Overeem will beat Fedor, but I am saying that he has more than just a chance.