Tonight won't be the first time Alistair Overeem and Fabricio Werdum have met in the first round of a tournament. In 2006, a 26-year-old Overeem met 28-year-old Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Fabricio Werdum in the opening round of Pride's Open Weight Grand Prix tournament. Here's how the action unfolded:
Round 1, 10:00: We get a closeup of Werdum bouncing around in his corner. He's wearing a Breathe Right strip. My septum is slightly deviated, so I experimented with Breathe Right strips on and off for a few years. There's two big problems: 1) They're expensive at nearly $15 a box for 30 strips. That's 50 cents a strip. That's got to be a tremendous markup. 2) The adhesive doesn't stick with any consistency. You're supposed to scrub your nose to wipe excess oil off, and I wouldn't spend ten minutes with a wash cloth on my face, but by the next morning would have come undone.
R1, 9:58: For as tremendous as Overeem's physique is, his haircuts have always been atrocious. He's sporting a fade into a curly mess of locks on top. Gross. Werdum starts the action with a jumping side kick you only see on local shows or TUF fights.
R1, 9:23: While I hate the ring as a fighting area for MMA, I do enjoy being able to see the crowd in the background. One of my favorite things to do during a big boxing match is pick out the celebs in the first few rows. Then I watch for their reactions to the high spots of the fight.
R1, 9:05: Overeem using great footwork to keep Werdum, who clearly doesn't want to "stand and bang" or "slip and rip" or "throw and go" or "punch and much," along the ropes.
R1, 8:56: Just as I press play, Overeem jumps forward with a knee. Werdum clinches, and they dance along the ropes. We'll see how this exchange plays out, but I expect the clinch to be a great position for Overeem tonight. (At 8:40 they disengage.)
R1, 8:00: Classic Alistair so far. He's winning the fight two minutes in, having forced Werdum into the corner twice now and doing some good clinch work. Werdum hasn't attempted a single takedown yet.
R1, 7:50: After Werdum works the clinch out of the corner, Alistair reaches beneath Werdum's legs and damn near body slams him pro wrestling style. That's some strength, lifting up a 240-pound man with ease.
R1, 7:20: They show a split-screen replay of the slam. Not sure why, but Overeem lets up after lifting him off the ground. Instead of slamming him down hard, he sort of gently places him on the mat instead. Weird.
R1, 6:48: Overeem stands up from Werdum's guard and kicks him a couple times before Fabricio stands up himself. The standup disparity is huge here. Werdum's striking is so raw; he's throwing wild hooks, and Overeem is having an easy time avoiding and returning fire. Once again, we're back to Overeem clinching in the corner.
R1, 6:07: If Alistair ever used PEDs to bulk up, he was using them before he committed to putting on weight at heavyweight. He's something like 228 lb. here, and he's JACKED.
R1, 5:30: Alistair's said he plans on coming out more aggressive in the rematatch tonight. That's scary. He's been the overwhelming aggressor thus far, backing Werdum into the turnbuckles and coming forward with knees to the body. A Werdum clinch takedown attempt misfires and Alistair ends up on top in guard.
R1, 4:00: If Overeem backs up Werdum tonight as much as he did in 2006, it's going to be a very long or very short night for Werdum. He can't afford to give Alistair a sitting target with 258 lb. of power behind his punches. Alistair with his third takedown already.
R1, 3:12: Overeem's done a great job of standing out of Werdum's guard when he gets the chance. Werdum lands his best offense of the fight with a couple of knees to the body from the Thai plum. Overeem looks unaffected, and, naturally, backs Werdum into a corner.
R1, 2:20: We're back on the floor after Alistair caught a leg after a knee, and gently placed Werdum on the mat again. It looks like Overeem is trying to avoid creating a scramble situation for Werdum to catch him with something.
R1, 0:59: In the interim, Overeem's stood up out of guard, back Werdum into the corner, clinched, and taken Werdum down once again. Right around the one minute mark we see Werdum sit up for his first attempt at a kimura.
R1, 0:17: Werdum isolates an arm and throws up his legs for a triangle. Overeem, who still looks fresh here, postures up, shifts the weight of his shoulders, and breaks Werdum's legs apart with a textbook guard pass. Werdum turns his hips back into guard.
R1, 0:00: Round one is all Overeem. He's bending over on his stool, blowing his nose. He's tired, which betrays the pace we just saw him push at the end of round one. I wonder if the round break hurt him here. It's like cleaning a house. It's a long and tiring process, and halfway through you decide to take a five minute breather. You plop down on the couch, flip on the TV, and then it's two hours later and you have to make dinner. The house ain't getting finished today.
Round 2, 5:00: Werdum breathing heavy too. Alistair pushed a hard pace in the opening ten minutes. Lots of highlights of Alistair ducking under punches and landing overhand rights. Those punches put Werdum down tonight.
R2, 4:27: Nice hard inside leg kick from Werdum. I can't understate how futile his offense has been thus far. Outside of seriously hurting Overeem (unlikely given the striking disparity), Werdum needed to finish this fight to win given Pride's scoring system.
R2, 4:08: Werdum finally fights his way out of the corner with wild punches -- none of which land.
R2, 3:52: Werdum finally completes a trip takedown from the clinch. Overeem uses a butterfly sweep before Werdum can assert top position. Werdum eats a nice knee as they stand up.
R2, 3:41: Werdum punches his way off the ropes again, and while he's not doing any damage, the pace and tone of this round are in complete contrast to the first.
R2, 3:00: Alistair's tired, but he's still pushing forward. He tries to trip Werdum from the clinch, but Werdum secures a front headlock in the scramble. This is the most vulnerable position Overeem's been thus far.
R2, 2:42: Werdum lands a knee from a standing front headlock position. And...this is why I hate the ring. Werdum drags Overeem back to his knees right next to the ropes, and Alistair decides to fall through onto the edge of the apron. The referee halts the bout, and the fifty Pride officials at ringside shove Overeem back into the ring like a goddamn lumberjack match.
R2, 2:25: For whatever reason, this fight is restarted standing. Oh, Pride.
R2, 2:18: They clinch (shock), Overeem punishes Werdum's gut with a knee, and sweeps him off his feet into half-guard. Werdum's just as tired at this point.
R2: 1:15: Werdum slides back into full guard, and he immediately goes on the attack. Alistair's leaving his arms on the mat, something he didn't do in the first round, and Werdum sits up a couple times looking for a kimura. He finally locks on the grip, but Overeem does a good job of tucking his hand under his hips. It takes Werdum a single yank to free the arm. At this point, Overeem looks more mentally exhausted than anything else. He takes no evasive action to protect his arm, basically giving Werdum the submission.