I like to think of myself as a pretty positive person. Yet, when I take the time to actually discuss an event start to finish, people tend to pick out any negative comments and really focus in on them. And after Dallas Winston's "Suck My Sunshine" thing I had people asking me "why can't you ever just be positive about everything?" So I thought today, being a slow news day, was a good time to sit down and put hands to keyboard to explain the things that the fan in me is most excited about for Strikeforce: Overeem vs. Werdum.
- The main event between Fabricio Werdum and Alistair Overeem has the makings of a great fight. Both men have a legitimate case as being the best at what they do in the division (Overeem's striking, Werdum's BJJ) and they've both changed considerably as fighters since their 2006 meeting. I'll be rooting for Alistair as he is just a fascinating fighter and has all the qualities needed to become a legitimate superstar but a Werdum win and a continuation of his redemption after a disappointing UFC run would be a great story as well.
- Jimmy Lennon Jr. is the best ring announcer working today and I really enjoy watching him work. So that's a little side bonus to any MMA event on Showtime.
- I talk about it pretty often on Twitter (are you following me yet?) but part of the "fan experience" in sports for me is having villains. Josh Barnett is a guy who is, in my mind, a villain. It's not that I can't write about him objectively, I can. But his attitude and constant finger pointing rather than accepting his role in past events really irritates me. So from an excitement standpoint, I am excited to pull for the guy who has worked his way up from changing tires to a living (even after Brett Rogers has been proven as less than an elite heavyweight two times over) to pull off the big upset and knock out the guy who ruined his own shot at greatness over and over.
- I am a big K.J. Noons fan. I think he is constantly overlooked despite being a hell of a fighter. The Heun split decision win seemed like a pretty clear K.J. win to me even if a little ugly. But people overlook things like him being the last guy to beat (and really dominate) Nick Diaz and then going well above where he should be in weight to rematch him and being the only guy in Diaz's ten fight win streak to take him to a decision, and in a hell of a good fight too. The fight with Jorge Masvidal is one that he absolutely should win but should be very entertaining as well. And if it sets up a fight with Gilbert Melendez? I think that will be a hell of a war.
- We're going to see Daniel Cormier's first big step up in competition when he takes on Jeff Monson. Monson has fallen off the radar a bit which tends to happen when you're losing to the 2009 version of Pedro Rizzo and dropping close decisions to Travis Wiuff and Shamil Abdurahimov. But it wasn't that long ago that people wanted Monson to be the man to step in and fight Fedor Emelianenko after Josh Barnett's positive test before Affliction: Trilogy. He's a talented and experienced fighter and one that should push Cormier more than we've ever seen. It is a tremendous fight that will tell us a lot about the future of arguably the top heavyweight prospect in MMA.
- The mini-tournament between the Grand Prix alternates has its finals the same night as Chad Griggs and Valentijn Overeem meet in what I fully expect to be a short, violent affair. Kicking off the broadcast with a fight like this should set a good tone for the evening. Griggs has become one of those "MMA guilty pleasures" who may not be particularly skilled, but he's exciting and has a lot of heart.
- Come on, Gesias Cavalcante vs. Justin Wilcox is a fantastic HDNet undercard fight. It also gives a chance to see how Wilcox does against someone a little more well rounded than his last several opponents. Shamar Bailey only presented wrestling, Vitor Ribeiro and Rodrigo Damm really only were going to be a threat in the submission department but JZ can knock you out or submit you should the opportunity present itself. We're going to really learn if Wilcox is for real as well as find out if JZ's days of even being semi-relevant have passed.
- Conor Heun is fighting on Magno Almeida on the HDNet portion of the card. Almeida was the #3 lightweight prospect in Bloody Elbow's World MMA Scouting Report and looked very impressive in handling Mike Campbell in his last fight. Heun is on a two fight losing streak and sits at 8-4 overall, but three of his four losses have come by split decision. He's almost always competitive and usually pretty exciting so this should be yet another interesting fight.
So there it is. The combination of legitimate and proven fighters and tests for developing prospects like Cormier, Wilcox and Almeida is making for a card that I'm legitimately excited to watch. As a fan of the sport there should be plenty of excitement and as a member of the "MMA media" there should be stories galore. Saturday can't get here soon enough.