Fabricio Werdum lost a unanimous decision to Alistair Overeem in the first round of Strikeforce's Heavyweight Grand Prix at Strikeforce: Overeem vs Werdum last Saturday. Werdum spent most of the fight on his back, either with Overeem in his guard or flopping to his back, begging the Dutchman to follow him down.
It was a less than fan-pleasing performance. Werdum spoke to Brazilian MMA site Portal do Vale Tudo and explained his strategy and what went wrong in the fight:
I tried to knock him out, I showed that I was doing well in the stand-up, but I also wanted to do the fight in the ground, because I was very confident in my jiu-jitsu. It ended up being really bad to pull guard all the time, I burned a lot of energy, it was not good. When I was successful in the very end of the rounds, I found myself without much strength. I'm just amazed that no one will go to the ground with me even though I'll stand with everyone. This happens all the time. Even at striking I did not see the K-1 champion that knocks everyone out show up, he did not show much, he did not throw any strikes meant for knock downs, and as Fight Metrics showed I was able to throw more strikes. I made the mistake to pull guard too much, to want to finish it any way. The fight was not good for either of us, but he did not beat me, I lost (on my own).
My translation of the full interview from PVT is after the jump.
Were you not lacking wrestling to take him down and work on your ground game?
Werdum: I wanted to take him down, I tried the double-leg many times, the single leg, but I hit a wall. I felt the difference in strength a lot, he was impressively strong. It was not lack of training, because I trained a lot of wrestling with Mark Munoz and I was able to take everyone down in the gym, but in the fight it was different. I only tried pulling guard because I wasn't successful at attacking the legs. I learned a lot with this defeat and one of them is that I'll need to be stronger to fight at the highest level of this weight class, after all, it's the heavyweights.
And what about that scene of pleading Overeem to go to your guard. What was that about?
Werdum: That was just a joke, I asked him to come to my guard only once to see what it was like. Since he was used to knocking everyone out with ground and pound, let him show me that he was able to do the same with me, if he was so big, because I was going to reverse him there. I was even able to put him in my guard, but with little time to end the round. If it was in the beginning of the fight, it would have been different, but it's no use to say it now.
You mentioned in an earlier interview that you did not follow your corner's orders. What happened?
Werdum: Rafael Cordeiro told me to keep the fight standing, to trade, and I didn't give him any ears. I was there fighting, but I don't know what happened to me, I was not well, it was not my day. My vision was not good, it was too wide, I could see the fans but I wouldn't focus on (Overeem). I paid the price of not listening to my corner, to not exchange in the fight. For so long now Rafael would say something and I would follow, but I don't know what happened this time, I did not believe, I was not there, I was on ‘autopilot'. Say what you will about me, but I'm being as sincere as I can be. I messed up, it was not the team, it was me. I did not do what I trained for, I made a tactical error, pulling guard like that was wrong of me to do.
You made a lot of provocations towards Overeem before this fight, do you think it was a mistake?
Werdum: I have to do more and talk less. I was talking a lot because it was Overeem, I don't usually trash talk, but this is a guy who says he'll knock everyone out, so I took it a bit personal. I played around saying he was ‘my son', but those who knows me knows that I'm a joker, and what I said was because I had beaten him once already.
Would you accept a rematch?
Werdum: Now the score is at 1 to 1, right? I hope one day we'll have a rematch, see who breaks the tie. I lost, but I learned a lot with this loss. Perhaps it wasn't my time to win, I believe a lot in energy, I thought I was 100% but I was not. I'm not sure if it was my mind, my body, something was malfunctioning and I'm going to fix that, to dedicate myself more. We'll have a meeting at Kings MMA to see what went wrong and plan the comeback, because my goal is still to be champion of Strikeforce or the UFC. I'm sad but motivated, I know I could have won this fight.
Do you think this loss can hurt you with Zuffa?
Werdum: Certainly I will be hurt inside the organization. You have two options; to win or to lose. If you win you take a step forward, everyone will give you props, you'll party, you get sponsors... But if you lose, it's horrible. Everything is against you. It's like I'm having a hangover, that I drank a truck full of drinks. I was very upset, blaming myself.
Do you think Bigfoot can avenge this loss against Overeem?
Werdum: Bigfoot is going to beat him. I thought Overeem was going to show a lot more standing, hit a lot harder, but I didn't feel that, I did not feel the posture of a champion of everything. I felt the strength, but Bigfoot is naturally strong and if he takes advantage of that, if he comes well prepared, he takes this fight for sure.
Meanwhile, while talking to UOL Esportes, Bigfoot had the following to say about Overeem:
I said it before, if I beat Fefor I would win this tournament. I promised my family and my fans, I will be champion of this tournament. I think Overeem respected Werdum too much. I was expecting a lot out of this fight, and it wasn't what I saw. I respect Overeem, but I will train hard, I will train for three rounds. I know I can knock this guy out. I can fight standing or on the ground, believe it!