Alistair Overeem file photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem had one word to describe what he witnessed Saturday at the HP Pavilion.
Fabricio Werdum’s stunning 69-second defeat of the world’s top-ranked heavyweight capped off a harrowing few weeks for the 30-year-old Dutchman. Overeem said he cancelled a promotional trip to the U.S. for Strikeforce’s June 16 and June 26 events to dive back into training for a heavyweight title bout at Dream 15 on July 10. When the Japanese promotion cancelled the championship fight on Friday, Overeem booked a 20-hour flight and made it cageside just in time to watch the fight he’s chased for the last year with Emelianenko go up in smoke.
“I’m still a little bit shaken from (the cancelled Dream bout). I booked the flight to here, 20 hours, and then this happens,” said Overeem. “A loss is always a possibility, but naturally, I thought Fedor would beat him.”
Emelianenko’s defeat -- his first in nearly 10 years and 29 fights -- not only derailed a pay-per-view worthy headliner for the promotion, it also quelled Overeem’s appetite for the cagy Russian.
“It’s about what the people want to see, what the organization wants and what I want,” said Overeem. “That all pointed to Fedor, but he declined to fight me last month in the May 15 show and he’d rather fight Werdum. Now he lost to him. It’s changed everything. I wanted the winner of the fight tonight and that’s Werdum, so Werdum is next.”
Overeem acknowledged that Emelianenko’s management team and Strikeforce’s co-promotional partner, M-1 Global, could push for a Werdum rematch first. Still, like many who watched “The Last Emperor” fall on Saturday, he questioned how much longer Emelianenko would remain in the game.
“Fedor’s a little bit out of the picture,” said Overeem. “He has one more fight on his (Strikeforce) contract and I don’t know against who he’ll fight. He might retire after that anyway. He might retire now. He’s the X-factor.”
Overeem suggested that the defeat could signal Emelianenko’s loss of fire for the fight.
“What motivation does he have? He’s already done everything,” said Overeem. “His bank account is going to be from here to the moon.”
A fight against Werdum would at least allow the Golden Glory striker to avenge a 2006 loss to the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. Overeem wasn’t adverse to this possibility.
“Fabricio Werdum, I believe he trained really hard for Fedor,” said Overeem. “He looked sharp, so all I can say is congratulations to him. I have a score to settle. I want to fight him.”