Takedown defense will be critical for Alistair Overeem against Fabricio Werdum. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Sherdog.com staff put their reputations on the line with bold predictions for Strikeforce “Overeem vs. Werdum,” which airs on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on HDNet and Showtime (10 p.m. ET). The main event features a rematch between Alistair Overeem and Fabricio Werdum in the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix quarterfinals.
Alistair Overeem vs. Fabricio Werdum
Guilherme Pinheiro: Both guys have come a long way since their first fight back in 2006. By the way, that fight is just a statistic for me. Overeem and Werdun are completely different animals now. The Dutchman is not only bigger and stronger but far better technically. His kickboxing is second to none in the heavyweight division, and he also boasts an underrated submission game. Werdun is an extremely accomplished grappler who can capitalize on the slightest mistake of his opponents. Unfortunately for him, the only way he can win this fight is if Overeem makes a mistake on the ground. However, getting the fight to the ground is going to be a problem. Werdun’s best takedowns are the ones that he performs in the clinch, and being in the clinch with Overeem does not sound like the greatest idea. I see Overeem doing heavy damage standing up and eventually knocking out the Brazilian fighter in the second round.
Brian Knapp: I think at this point in his career Overeem is too strong, too skilled and too smart for Werdum. He forces Werdum to play his game and whips him in the clinch en route to a second- or third-round stoppage on strikes.
Todd Martin: Werdum will have to weather an early storm from the explosive Overeem, but Overeem has typically struggled as fights go on, even before he gained a massive amount of weight. It will be no surprise if Overeem can finish Werdum early, but I see Werdum surviving and taking over later in the fight for a TKO or submission win.
Tony Loiseleur: The Overeem that Werdum faced in 2006 is a different man from the one that’ll be across the cage from him in Dallas. Since capturing the K-1 heavyweight grand prix belt is no small feat, I think it’s safe to say that Overeem is light years ahead of Werdum in the striking department. Since their initial meeting in Pride Fighting Championships, the Dutchman has developed the defensive grappling needed to keep the fight standing. Barring a lightning-fast submission setup and execution by “Vai Cavalo” in the early going, I see him getting mashed up on the feet and possibly stopped late. Tactics say that Overeem shouldn’t and probably won’t follow Werdum down to the mat unless he’s sent him there with strikes first.
Tomasz Marciniak: In absolute terms, Werdum, as a two-time Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist, has all the skills to submit Overeem once more. Getting the Dutchman to the ground, however, is a much taller task than five years ago. Werdum struggled with taking down Antonio Silva, and Overeem should be every bit as tough to topple over, thanks to his physical strength. As long as the fight remains upright, Overeem will have a huge advantage, and while I’m not sold on the fact he can go for 15 hard minutes, he’s bound to build up an insurmountable lead by the time he starts to fade. I think “The Reem” gets a late second-round stoppage via strikes.
Rob King: Overeem has the full arsenal of striking attacks at his disposal. He can hit you with punches, knees, elbows or kicks. Werdum’s path to victory is obviously submissions. Werdum managed to get one on Overeem the first time they fought, but Overeem has had five years since then to work on his submission defense. I see Overeem landing some shots early, avoiding the submission and wearing down Werdum enough to stop him in the second.
Tristen Critchfield: The winner of this bout looks like as good a candidate as any to take the entire Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix. Overeem has been explosive, so he hasn’t had to work deep into a fight in quite some time; it might be to Werdum’s advantage if it goes the distance. Werdum submitted the Strikeforce heavyweight champ once, but the 2006 version of Overeem isn’t the same as the one you see now. Overeem should be able to punish Werdum with knees from the clinch en route to a second-round stoppage.
Lutfi Sariahmed: Overeem is in a position here to make a big move if he wins the entire tournament. The UFC doesn’t have a third guy in its heavyweight division right now, with Brock Lesnar on the shelf. If Cain Velasquez potentially runs over Junior dos Santos later this year, then it could just be Velasquez and everyone else. So if Overeem beats Werdum and then pulls off another two wins, why wouldn’t the UFC use him as that next guy? He’s proven to be marketable on a different stage, and I think he can certainly be successful in the UFC. The lack of depth in the division places a lot more emphasis on this tournament, to the benefit of the winner. I like Overeem here. We’ll see if he can capitalize.
Josh Barnett vs. Brett Rogers
Loiseleur: Certainly, Barnett has the experience advantage and that alone makes him the favorite. What I'm curious about however is how Rogers will stand up to Barnett's grappling skills. As of late, "the Grim" has mixed it up with guys who have crippling power on the feet and has paid the price for it. Barnett isn't one of those types, but he is quite adept on the mat. I don't think Rogers has the positional savvy to save himself on the judges' cards, but beyond that, does he have the submission defense to fend off the myriad catch wrestling subs that Barnett has in his arsenal? Does he have the wrestling defense to keep it standing to maximize his chances of landing brain-rattling blows? I tend to think not, but I'm hoping to find out definitively on Saturday. Regardless, I've got the Baby Faced Assassin by decision if not submission.
Marciniak: Is Rogers doomed to be remembered as a one-knockout wonder? He certainly doesn’t lack power, but aside from Andrei Arlovski, he was thoroughly outclassed when put in the cage against elite heavyweights; this fight will play out similarly. I think Barnett grounds Rogers and submits him with one of his catch-wrestling specials in the second round.
King: No offense to Rogers -- he’s a good fighter -- but I would have much rather had Daniel Cormier or Shane del Rosario in this spot instead, especially after Rogers struggled with the well-traveled Ruben Villareal. Barnett should be able to get inside of Rogers and get him to the ground, where he should be able to finish him however he pleases.
K.J. Noons vs. Jorge Masvidal
Critchfield: Noons’ striking is prettier to watch, but Masvidal has a more varied arsenal. It would be best for Masvidal to take Noons to the ground early and often. Noons will eventually land his share of punches, but if Masvidal can mix things up, he takes the decision.
Sariahmed: Noons has quickly been pushed to the forefront in the Strikeforce lightweight division in an attempt to capitalize off the Diaz feud. He certainly has the look to be pushed into this sort of a role, but his work inside the cage leaves you wanting. The problem is he’s better than whatever else the Strikeforce lightweight division has to offer. His issues won’t be exposed, though, until a potential meeting with Melendez. Noons is a more technical striker, while Masvidal would go for straight power. Give me Noons via decision.
Daniel Cormier vs. Jeff Monson
Pinheiro: This is great fight to see how far Cormier has come. Monson is as tough as they come, and although he is undersized for a heavyweight, he can sure be a threat to an upcoming fighter like Cormier. However, I think the American Kickboxing Academy product shows progress and gets the biggest win of his young career; Cormier by decision.
Knapp: Cormier wins this one fairly easily, utilizing his superior wrestling to keep Monson on his back and himself out of danger. A shell of his former self due to age and injury, Monson deserves admiration for his desire to compete at a high level at the age of 40. With that said, he does not have enough left in the tank to threaten Cormier, who seems to improve every time he sets foot in the cage; Cormier by decision.
Valentijn Overeem vs. Chad Griggs
Martin: Griggs isn’t the most skilled of fighters, but he has tremendous determination and finds ways to win. Overeem, by contrast, is a fighter who has always found ways to lose. Griggs is going to take some shots trying to knock out an experienced Golden Glory fighter, but I think he’s willing to make that sacrifice and Overeem won’t be nearly as resilient when Griggs connects.
Loiseleur: I think that the elder Overeem can catch Griggs in a submission if he’s really intent on hunting for one. However, his most worrisome of liabilities is his tendency to shy away from firefights and bow out of fights before any serious injury occurs. Seeing as Griggs has both the kind of unruly aggression and power that Overeem tends to avoid, I’m leaning toward “The Grave Digger” to get the TKO here.
Gesias Cavalcante vs. Justin Wilcox
Marciniak: I would lean slightly toward Wilcox picking up a decision win here. Although Cavalcante surpassed my expectations in the Josh Thomson fight, I don’t think this is a good style matchup for him. The Brazilian excels in top control, and I can’t see him taking down Wilcox, who should control the fight when exchanging strikes.
King: I really like this fight. It’s similar to the Cormier-Monson fight in that the prospect is fighting a much more experienced guy but someone he can beat. Wilcox gets the edge in the wrestling, but Cavalcante gets the nod in submissions and standup. In a close fight like this, I usually pick the wrestler to grind out a decision, and that’s what I am going to do here. Give me Wilcox by decision.
Jordan Breen 85-31
Tomasz Marciniak 83-33
Brian Knapp 81-35
Todd Martin 79-37
Guilherme Pinheiro 78-38
Tony Loiseleur 78-38
Tristen Critchfield 77-39
Freddie DeFreitas 75-41
Rob King 74-42
Lutfi Sariahmed 74-42