Hello once more fans and friends and welcome to the seventh edition of “Heavy Wait: The Hunt for Strikeforce Gold”, a special “maxi-series” focusing on the fast-approaching Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix. Once again I’ll be looking at another gifted competitor in the tournament and carefully examining what he needs to do in order to beat all seven of his possible opponents. And now we come to the man who arguably scored the biggest upset in MMA history: the one and only “Vai Cavalo”, Fabricio Werdum.
And remember, this sub-section of “Heavy Wait” features a modified “Top 5” format. Let’s dive right in.
Fedor Emelianenko: Werdum stands the best chance of winning if he does his best to make the impossible happen again. Werdum needs to lure Emelianenko into a war of attrition on the ground, because that type of fight simply favors the submission specialist. As great as Emelianenko’s ground game is, if Werdum is given fifteen minutes to work off his back, he can catch Fedor again. The key here will be avoiding Fedor’s hardest shots and most brutal Ground and Pound, in order to have a clear head. If Werdum isn’t rocked early and often, if he’s in full control of his mental faculties as the fight continues to go to the ground, eventually Werdum will force open an opportunity or be presented with one, and that’s when he should explode and go for a submission.
Antonio Silva: Effective grappling is the key to neutralizing many of Silva’s more-obvious advantages, like his crazy reach. Werdum needs to attack at angles and constantly hunt for the takedown, but he should also do his best to switch gears constantly in order to confuse “Bigfoot” and add an element of surprise to his takedown attempts. If Werdum simply shoots and shoots often, it leaves him open to too many possible counter-shots. The key to victory here will be Werdum’s versatility at setting up his takedowns and smothering his opponent.
Alistair Overeem: It’s all about catching Overeem on the ground. Even if it means jumping into guard, Werdum can’t give Overeem a chance to get the better of him standing up. Overeem is a K-1 Champion, and Werdum’s striking has always teetered somewhere between “average with flashes of slightly-above-average” and “slightly underwhelming”. Even if he has to eat some Ground and Pound, Werdum needs to take this one to the floor and constantly hunt for submissions whether he’s on top or on his back.
Andrei Arlovski: Hit smarter, not harder. Arlovski is still a pretty good striker, I just don’t think Werdum can beat him on striking alone. Arlovski has virtually abandoned his ground game, Werdum should utilize that every chance he gets. If it goes to the ground, Werdum should look to Ground and Pound Arlovski and get a dominating Unanimous Decision victory. If Arlovski leaves himself open Werdum should of course try to lock something in, but if Werdum wants to guarantee victory, an active ground game spent mostly on top looks to be the easiest way.
Sergei Kharitonov: Sergei likes to throw bombs; Werdum needs to make him pay for doing so. Werdum needs to close the gap, and when Sergei begins blasting, Werdum needs to smother him against the cage, take him down, and work for a submission. Sergei’s chin is too good, Ground and Pound should only be used to open Kharitonov up for passes. Werdum needs to get Sergei in mount, pound on him a little, and when Sergei tries to buck Werdum off or give up his back, Werdum needs to latch onto an arm or lock in a choke. If Sergei gives Werdum even the slightest opening for a submission, Werdum should pursue it vigorously, because he’ll get it eventually.
Josh Barnett: Werdum should play the striking game only until he figures out Barnett’s methods. Werdum should be able to hold his own against Barnett standing up, he’ll most likely lose a round but I don’t see Barnett being able to straight KO Werdum. Werdum needs to take a round to dodge, counter sparingly, and figure out Barnett’s gameplan. In the later rounds, Werdum needs to pounce, countering Barnett constantly and shooting for a takedown the second Barnett gets a bit too overzealous. Werdum needs to figure out Barnett’s aggressive style and then use it against him, because if he does, he stands a good chance of winning it two rounds to one, or possibly winning via submission if Barnett gets careless enough.
Brett Rogers: The gameplan that Werdum needs to beat Sergei almost-perfectly applies to Brett Rogers as well. I would only caution Werdum not to take as many chances, because Rogers hits a bit harder and he’s shown an ability to get good ground guys off of him so long as they’re not hulking behemoths like Alistair Overeem. Rogers may be able to buck off Werdum a few times, he may even power his way out of a submission or two, but Werdum should still stick to taking the big man down. Eventually, Rogers will tire himself out and practically gift-wrap a ligament to Werdum. And when that opportunity presents itself, that’s when Werdum should try to finish the fight.
So, fans and friends, that wraps up Part 7 of “Heavy Wait”. We’re now four competitors down with four to go. And what about you? What must Fabricio Werdum do in order to win it all?