Event: Strikeforce: Overeem vs. Werdum
Date: June 18, 2011
Location: American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
Alistair Overeem vs. Fabricio Werdum
Kid Nate: Werdum is a lot tougher than people seem to remember. He hung with Antonio Silva and Gabriel Gonzaga and eventually beat both big men down. But he's not doing that to Overeem. Overeem by KO.
Brent Brookhouse: It has gotten really cool to pretend that everyone knew Brett Rogers was no good all along. We forget that he really earned a lot of respect by giving Fedor some real trouble in the first round of a fight people expected him to get blown out in. Overeem did things to Rogers that were just embarrassing to watch. Werdum is clearly a better fighter than Rogers, but we've seen that Alistair can toss around big men. I don't really see a reliable way for Werdum to get this to the floor and this isn't a fight with Antonio Silva, who Werdum was able to outbox for most of their fight. This fight stays standing, Overeem puts the hurt on, and then we all pretend that Werdum was never any good anyway. Alistair Overeem by TKO, round 2.
Mike Fagan: We still don't have a great idea of how much cardio Overeem is packing at heavyweight. His last six MMA fights have lasted just under nine minutes combined. He went six minutes with "Cro Cop," and just under nine with Paul Buentello. Back in 2007. Back when he weighed 224 lb. He did look fresh after 13 minutes of fighting at the K-1 Grand Prix Final. He fought at a good pace in his opening bout with Spong, and he looked just as active, if not moreso, in the third round as in the first. Werdum needs to figure out a way to take Alistair down (and it should be noted that the first Werdum fight is his only grappling submission loss) or bank on cardio still being an issue and outwork him over fifteen minutes. Both scenarios seem unlikely to me. Alistair Overeem by decision.
Leland Roling: Overrated? In terms of his strength of record at heavyweight, perhaps. But I'm more prone to slap an overrated tag on fighters who have a few fluke wins in that run. Overeem is more of an unproven fighter in this weight class. Werdum, in my opinion, will be one of his toughest tests, even if he happens to make his way to the UFC. Obviously, Werdum's gameplan is to run rampant on Overeem's defenses on the ground, but I think Werdum will have huge problems in the clinch and dealing with Overeem's immense power. Overeem will impress on Saturday night... destructively. Alistair Overeem via KO.
Anton Tabuena: This is pretty simple. Werdum has to take this to the ground to win, or Alistair is going to blast him on the feet. Werdum has a weak shot, and mostly takes people down from the clinch... He has a chance to do that, but as you may have already known, that's still a very dangerous place to be with Overeem. Barring a silly move like jumping down to Werdum's guard a la Fedor, I think this is Overeem's fight to lose. Alistair Overeem by KO.
Matt Bishop: I feel sorry for Werdum here. He comes off two huge wins and now has to go in there with Overeem, who has been wrecking cats left and right. Remember his last Strikeforce fight? Brett Rogers had negative offense in that fight. Werdum needs to get this fight to the ground and he needs to get it to the ground fast. If he doesn't, Overeem is going to be bigger, faster and stronger and it's not going to be good for Werdum. This is a tip-top fight, but stylistically, it's a bad night for Werdum. Alistair Overeem via KO, round 2.
Fraser Coffeen: For Werdum to win this, he MUST get it to the ground, and I am not sure he can make that happen. I think Overeem fights a patient fight here, picking Werdum apart at first before finding the opening he needs to shut it down. Hopefully this helps silence some of the critics as well. Alistair Overeem by KO
Josh Barnett vs. Brett Rogers
Kid Nate: Unless Barnett has really lost several steps he ought to be able to handle Rogers. Might have some trouble getting him on the ground, but Barnett can bang too. Barnett by decision.
Brent Brookhouse: You can just ignore my prediction here, I refuse to predict a Barnett win. The absurdity of people mentioning Barnett and Dusty Rhodes in the same sentence is maddening. Plus, if anyone is closer to the son of a plumber, the American Dream...It's the guy who worked his way up from changing tires to fighting in huge MMA bouts. Brett Rogers by TKO, round 1.
Mike Fagan: Unless his open workout was foreshadowing some fight fixing on Saturday night, Barnett's going to run game on Rogers, a man whose career is built on knocking out Andrei Arlovski in 22 seconds. A man, also, who took Ruben Villareal to a decision in his last fight. Josh Barnett by TKO, round two.
Leland Roling: Rogers' power is the only major concern for Barnett in this fight. If Barnett can avoid Rogers in the first round and find a way to bring this to his world on the ground, Rogers' gas tank will fade as he hits the second round, if he even makes it out of the first. Barnett owns Rogers on the ground past the second round, and I'm inclined to think he'll find a way to isolate an arm and win by submission inside the time limit. Barnett via submission.
Anton Tabuena: When's the last time Barnett looked impressive against someone with a remote chance of winning? And even against weak opposition, he hasn't exactly looked like the Josh Barnett of old... If he can take this to the ground, he should have a decent shot at victory over Rogers, who isn't exactly a ground specialist. I don't think he can do it though. Brett Rogers by TKO.
Matt Bishop: Say what you will about Josh Barnett, and lord knows people have, but he simply is a better fighter than Rogers. I still can't get over Rogers' performance against Overeem and then, outside of Strikeforce, he went to a decision with Warpath. That is not a good sign if you're hoping to be competitive with someone who has the skills Barnett does. Josh Barnett by submission, round 1.
Fraser Coffeen: This really should be Barnett's fight to lose, but between a very sporadic schedule in recent years, and Barnett's propensity for keeping his fights standing these days, Rogers is in position for an upset. I still think Barnett is too focused, and will wait out Rogers's initial attacks before ending it, but I'm not ruling out an upset here. Josh Barnett by Submission
K.J. Noons vs. Jorge Masvidal
Kid Nate: Noons has the skills to really outclass Masvidal on the feet. Masvidal has some power but he'll get worn down. Noons by TKO.
Brent Brookhouse: I'm a big fan of Noons. As I mentioned the other day, the only guy to take Nick Diaz to decision on his ten fight win streak is Noons. And K.J. was a weight class above where he should be fighting. Jorge Masvidal isn't a bad fighter, but he's not as good as Noons. It might be a tough first round but Masvidal will wilt as the fight wears on. K.J. Noons by TKO, round three.
Mike Fagan: I heard on Twitter that K.J. Noons cut his hair. This is upsetting. K.J. Noons by decision.
Leland Roling: A great match-up between two fighters who can bring solid striking to the table. Noons is the more technical striker with a solid boxing background under his belt. Masvidal is no slouch in the striking department either, but he will fade in terms of power as the fight progresses. I think Noons ultimately weathers the storm, if it even happens, and busts up Masvidal on the feet while avoiding the ground. Noons via decision.
Anton Tabuena: Both guys will slug it out, but Noons is just the better striker. KJ Noons by Decision.
Matt Bishop: This is great matchmaking, but this one could turn into a dull, counterpunching affair. Masvidal has great skills but tends to play it safe sometimes and I can't see him coming out guns blazing against someone as talented as Noons. I've always loved Noons as a fighter and am looking forward to this one. Noons is better technically and that's going to lead him to victory here. K.J. Noons by decision.
Fraser Coffeen: Very fun fight here, with the more technical boxing of Noons facing the more brawling style of Masvidal. I'll take the technique here, as I see Noons wearing Masvidal down over the rounds. K.J. Noons by Decision
Daniel Cormier vs. Jeff Monson
Kid Nate: Cormier is going to be able to dictate where this fight happens and he'll keep it on the feet. Cormier by TKO.
Brent Brookhouse: If I thought Monson were doing more than drifting around taking fight after fight I'd have a lot of concern of a Cormier loss in this bout. But now, Jeff is solidly a journeyman who works for the fight rather than an always evolving mixed martial artist. Cormier's future is bright and his right now is brighter than Monson's. Daniel Cormier by decision.
Mike Fagan: Monson fought nine times last year. He also lost to Travis Wiuff and Shamil Abdurahimov. Monson's probably the best journeyman body at heavyweight, but Cormier only loses this if we've overrated his MMA future. Daniel Cormier by decision.
Leland Roling: Monson's grappling ability is worrying as Cormier hasn't been put into those situations often, but Cormier's wrestling and heavy hands will be the ultimate deterrent. Monson's striking is far from average, and it wouldn't surprise me to see Cormier duck under those slow one-twos and bomb Monson in this fight. I think he keeps this on the feet and works over Monson, avoiding the grappling war on the ground. Daniel Cormier via decision.
Anton Tabuena: This is a good test to see where Cormier's development is, at this stage of his career. I think he's going to pass that thest with flying colors. Daniel Cormier by TKO.
Matt Bishop: Solid test for Cormier, but he's going to be too fast and too good for Monson. This fight will happen where Cormier wants it to, so it's up to him whether he wants to work on the feet or take it to the ground. Either way, I think he has an advantage but the big thing for Cormier is to avoid making big mistakes because that's where Monson could take advantage. Daniel Cormier by decision.
Fraser Coffeen: I think Monson has been underrated quite a bit throughout his career, but he is on the downward slope of that career. Cormier meanwhile is on the rise, and his power can make this a coming out party for him. Daniel Cormier by KO
Valentijn Overeem vs. Chad Griggs
Kid Nate: Kind of hard to believe these guys are alternates in a major tournament. Valentijn is a journeyman way on the downside. Griggs is a second-tier fighter making a run for glory. I'll go with Griggs here. Griggs by TKO.
Brent Brookhouse: These are pretty much exactly the kind of alternates that a tournament like this should have. Veteran journeyman vs. b-level fighter ready to step in at a moment's notice are exactly the guys you should have on standby. Overeem has about a 2 minute window, after that Griggs should be able to take over. And Chad's got a lot of survivability so I think he makes it through an early scare for a first round TKO in a fun little scrap. Chad Griggs by TKO, round 1.
Mike Fagan: I still don't know what to think of Chad Griggs, but I do know Valentijn Overeem is bad. Chad Griggs by TKO, round two.
Leland Roling: Wild affair here as both men aren't technically proficient, but very aggressive and willing to eat blows to deliver a bone-crushing finish. I'm not impressed with either fighter, but I'm more inclined to lean toward Overeem in this contest as I think he's a bit more effective from range. Overeem via TKO.
Anton Tabuena: Hard fight to pick. Neither guy is really a suitable "alternate" for this HWGP in terms of talent, but both guys are guaranteed to put on an entertaining scrap. This is a toss-up, but I think Overeem can pull it off. Valentijn Overeem by submission.
Matt Bishop: Overeem's record is littered with first-round finishes regardless of which end of the decision he's on. Griggs is going to come out and put hands on Overeem and I think he's going to be too much. Griggs told us on Bloody Elbow Radio that he's really looking out for Overeem's head kick. Good idea. Griggs punches Overeem hard, Overeem wilts, Griggs wins and continues his improbable Strikeforce run. Chad Griggs by TKO, round 1.
Fraser Coffeen: I'm glad Valentijn got this one last run in his lengthy career, but his days of subbing Babalu and Randy Couture are long behind him. He's still a very entertaining striker, as is Griggs. Overeem will likely come out fast and furious and take a quick lead, but I see Griggs surviving and making the comeback once Overeem tires. Chad Griggs by KO
Gesias Cavalcante vs. Justin Wilcox
Kid Nate: If JZ's knees were what they used to be, this would be a no-brainer. At his best Cavalcante was one of the most well-rounded fighters the lightweight division has ever seen. But he's not what he used to be and he won't be able to muscle Wilcox around. I think JZ will end up on his back and drop a decision. Wilcox by decision.
Brent Brookhouse: It has been quite some time since JZ has looked like a wrecking ball and Wilcox keeps impressing. The real concern here is that Cavalcante represents a much more well rounded fighter than the guys Wilcox has been fighting. If Justin decides to hang out on the feet, he could be in for some hurt. But I figure he is smart enough to drive for the takedown and grind out the win. Justin Wilcox by decision.
Mike Fagan: JZ is the betting favorite in this fight, though he's fallen from a 2-1 "overdog" to -130. His knees plus Wilcox's strength is the big concern here. Justin Wilcox by decision.
Leland Roling: Wilcox is your blue-collar grinding style of fighter who can push JZ to his limits. He isn't the most prolific striker, and that's where Cavalcante can win this fight. Unfortunately, Wilcox will press the action to the fence and to the ground where he can manhandle JZ and work him over. I am concerned, however, that Wilcox will have problems on the feet as he has never faced a striker at the level that JZ is at. He may be aging and a lesser fighter than he was during his prime, but still packs a punch and is technically better than Wilcox. I'll go with the upset. Cavalcante via decision.
Anton Tabuena: I just can't get myself to be excited about this one... JZ should take this, but as we have seen lately, it really isn't a guarantee anymore. Still, I'm picking the vet. JZ Cavalcante by Decision.
Matt Bishop: Wilcox looked like a beast against Rodrigo Damm, but this is an appropriate step-up in competition for him here. This is not the JZ of the past, but he's still a very capable fighter. I think Wilcox takes JZ down, busts him up a little bit and wins clearly. Justin Wilcox by decision.
Fraser Coffeen: It's amazing how quickly JZ fell down the ranks. Once considered one of the very top lightweights in the world, he's now on a 1-3 run and has only fought 5 times in nearly 4 years. Wilcox's wrestling pedigree makes him the exact kind of fighter that has been crushing the dreams of former stars from the Japanese MMA scene over the past few years, and I see him adding JZ to the list of big names who disappointed when coming to the US. Justin Wilcox by Decision
Conor Heun vs. Magno Almeida
Kid Nate: I'm not sold on Heun but he'll be a good test for Almeida. Almeida will pass. Almeida by decision.
Brent Brookhouse: Heun is always fun and his 8-4 record doesn't accurately reflect how competitive he has been in most of his fights. In his 4 losses, 3 were by split decision (although a judge scoring the Noons fight for him made no real sense). Were it not for a year layoff I'd probably pick Conor here, but Almeida is a tough prospect and he isn't particularly likely to give Heun time to get comfortable. Magno Almeida by submission, round 1.
Mike Fagan: A year layoff for Heun and "Magno" is an awesome name. Magno Almeida by decision.
Leland Roling: I like this fight a lot. Heun has a style that can wear on opponents, and Almeida is a rising up-and-comer with great grappling ability. He's smooth in his transitions and quick to submit his competition. Heun will need to rely on his striking to win, an area that Almeida isn't overly great in either. This could turn into a slugfest, but I imagine Almeida finds a way to bring this to the ground. There, he dominates Heun, and it will surprise a few fans. Almeida via decision.
Anton Tabuena: Almeida is a good prospect, but I think Heun has faced better competition, and will probably do enough to win this. Conor Heun by Decision.
Matt Bishop: After losing his last two fights, this is a must-win for Heun. We've seen Heun take a beating from Noons, so we know he's tough. Unfortunately, toughness only gets you so far. Magno Almeida by decision.
Fraser Coffeen: Good fight here, but Heun has a decided experience advantage on the bigger stage, and has faced a notably tougher level of opponent. I think that will make the difference. Conor Heun by Decision