In preparation for this Saturday's Strikeforce main event between Alistair Overeem and Fabricio Werdum, Anton Gurevich over at Low Kick spoke to Overeem's trainer at Golden Glory, Martijn De Jong. It's an interesting interview overall as De Jong addresses the MMA scene in Amsterdam and the state of Golden Glory, with some specific comments on the Werdum fight:
Big fight is coming up this weekend with Alistair fighting Fabricio Werdum. How are his preparations going, and what's the current stage of his training camp?
Alistair is very focused. He's a professional fighter and is fully prepared for this fight. We had a very long training camp of around three months. He's looking forward to this fight also because he lost to Werdum back in Pride, so yeah, it's a special one for him. He's very relaxed and confident in his abilities, so everything is going pretty well so far.
To which aspect of fighting you gave most of the attention during this training camp?
It doesn't really matter. MMA is a combination of things; standing up, takedowns and submissions. So we worked on each and every one of these areas. Of course there are certain things we trained especially for Werdum, but it's a part of the gameplan. As a coach, I think that if you give too much attention to one area you forget about another. That's why our goal was to give Alistair the tools to beat Werdum in every aspect of MMA.
But obviously Fabricio Werdum's main strength is his ground game. How good is Alistair's Jiu-Jitsu?
We had notable Black Belts coming to help Alistair with Jiu-Jitsu, and he has been beating them all on the ground. So his Jiu-Jitsu is actually very very good. Of course during this camp he did a lot of training with Jon Olav Einemo. He's one of the few men to defeat Roger Gracie so you can really say his Jiu-Jitsu is world class. Alistair's Jiu-Jitsu is good just like his overall MMA game.
Do you think Alistair Overeem's BJJ game is underrated? After all, he won the ADCC Euro Championship back in the day.
I think it's very underrated. Alistair is a K-1 World Champion and he's well known for knocking people out, so he doesn't really needs to use his Jiu-Jitsu to win a fight. His ground game is amazing. It's not like a typical Jiu-Jitsu we all know, but more of MMA-type Jiu-Jitsu grappling thing. It's very effective.
It's good to see De Jong address the ground game aspect of this fight, as that is the obvious weakness for Overeem against Werdum. While I agree that Reem does have a better ground game than he is often given credit for, Werdum is a significant step above. Einemo is an excellent person for Overeem to train with, as he has high level jiu jitsu himself, plus is a large fighter like Werdum. He's a great addition to Golden Glory, as the camp seems to be a bit more focused on the stand-up than the ground game. It's a superb camp, one of the best kickboxing camps in the world, but adding more ground specialists can only help.
For Overeem, the best ground/submission tools are his standing guillotine and his ground control. The guillotine has long been one of his best techniques, while his ground control has become a bigger part of his game since his move to Heavyweight. He displayed this control best against both Paul Buentello and Brett Rogers. But he will have to be very cautious if he engages in a ground battle with Werdum.
One other unrelated note from the interview regards De Jong's opinion of new UFC #1 contender Junior dos Santos:
Last weekend Junior Dos Santos impressively defeated Shane Carwin. What do you think about dos Santos' striking, and how do you compare it to the one of Alistair Overeem?
Junior has very good striking skills. His boxing is amazing. He's fast and has a good eye, so to say, he knows where and when to hit his opponent. As a fighter, I like his fighting style, although I think Alistair is a more complete fighter. Dos Santos is just a boxer, but Alistair is a kickboxer, so I think he's slightly above dos Santos when it comes to striking.
Whether you agree or disagree that Overeem's striking is above dos Santos, you can't deny that this sounds like a potentially very exciting fight down the road. Let's hope we get those Strikeforce and UFC Heavyweights mixing soon.