Sometimes these things happen in MMAPosted on June 19, 2011, 07:47 AM by Anton Gurevich
Yes, last night's Strikeforce main event between Alistair Overeem and Fabricio Werdum left the Mixed Martial Arts fans around the world disappointed, after both fighters failed to impress during three round of fighting. Still, some of the critique, especially towards the Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion Alistairr Overeem, went way out of proportions.
Let's not forget that Alistair Overeem faced a man who cut Fedor Emelianenko's 10-year streak in just 69 seconds and is widely considered as the best Heavyweight grappler on the planet. Fabricio Werdum is well-known for pulling guard against his opponents, where he can unleash fury with his elite Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu game. And that’s exactly what happened last night.
Werdum’s striking was surprisingly good against Overeem. Vai Cavalo unleashed decent combinations, and had a very good timing with his strikes. He had all the necessary tools to make the Dutchman sweat for this “W”. But instead, Werdum went into “Thales Leites mode” and turned this fight into “catch me if you can”. The Brazilian veteran invited Overeem to his guard like it was 2011 Abu-Dhabi Combat Club in Nottingham, and not Strikeforce on Showtime.
Alistair Overeem had absolutely no reason to test his grappling skills against Fabricio Werdum. He's a striker and Werdum is a grappler. Fighting in your opponent's comfort zone is clear sign of a poor gameplan. That's of course unless Fabricio Werdum earns his dominant position, and does everything in his power to stay there.
One week ago, Junior dos Santos did exactly the same thing against Shane Carwin. Obviously, dos Santos felt comfortable on his feet, where he has all the necessary skills to inflict damage, but he never went into a slugfest with Shane Carwin. JDS knew what was Shane Carwin's bread and butter, and that's exactly why he decided to throw "safe" combinations, and mostly jab his way to victory.
Junior Dos Santos had his 6-0 UFC record (three years of victories inside the Octagon) and a shot at the UFC Heavyweight title on the line against Shane Carwin. Last night, Alistair Overeem had his 10-fight winning streak, Strikeforce Heavyweight title, ticket to the UFC and obviously the place in Strikeforce Heavyweight GP Semi-Finals all on the line against Fabricio Werdum. When there's so much at stake, it's hard to expect from fighters to go for broke in crucial bouts.
Overeem did exactly what was needed from him to get that “W”. He avoided dangerous situations and fought strictly according to his gameplan. In his pre-fight interview, Overeem stated that the biggest difference between now and five years ago is “40lbs of whoopass”, but it looks like he's not giving himself too much credit.
There's much more than this.
Today, Alistair Overeem is a mentally tough, disciplined and focused fighter, who has a rare ability to avoid mistakes. And that’s the biggest difference between 256lbs of muscle and a Top 10 P4P Fighter.
At the end of the day, Alistair Overeem still has something to prove. Like it or not, but match-ups make fights, and the match-up against Antonio Silva will be similar to the epic war between Godzilla and King Kong. In my opinion Alistair Overeem proved last night he’s a Top 3 Heavyweight, way above Shane Carwin, Brock Lesnar, Frank Mir, Antonio Silva and Fedor Emelianenko.