On June 18, 2011, Strikeforce kicks off the second half of the opening round of their World Heavyweight Grand Prix with a packed card highlighted by Alistair Overeem fighting Fabricio Werdum. Overeem is the current Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion, as well as a champion in the K-1 kickboxing promotion and the Japanese MMA promotion known as DREAM. I personally consider Overeem the favorite to win not only this match, but the entire tournament. And why is that? Let’s discuss just that with a new entry into my “5 Reasons Why” series of articles. First up: five reasons why Alistair Overeem could beat Fabricio Werdum.
5. Even with all he’s accomplished, Alistair Overeem is still hungry to prove himself.
As stated previously, Overeem is a champion in three separate promotions, one of which is part of an entirely different sport. But that’s not enough for Overeem: he just doesn’t want to stay champion and win this tournament. He wants to go on and unify his Strikeforce title with the UFC Heavyweight Championship. He wants to go down as one of the best Heavyweight fighters of all time. And when you set your sights that high and are as skilled as Overeem, the impossible becomes possible very quickly.
4. Fabricio Werdum has been out of active competition for very, very close to a year.
The last time Fabricio Werdum stepped into a Strikeforce cage, he did the unthinkable and submitted Fedor Emelianenko. That was then, this is now. And Werdum’s last fight was that fight, which took place on June 28, 2010. That’s about as close to a year-long layoff as it gets, and as I keep saying, ring rust is very real. Several notable fighters have proven me very right recently, the most-notable being Mauricio Rua. If Werdum shows up even a bit rusty, which is a real possibility, then Overeem may end up running away with this fight.
3. Alistair Overeem has a very, very smothering top game.
Alistair Overeem doesn’t like to posture up when he’s in your guard, he likes to keep things tight and land short, compact punches. He does this for two reasons: to avoid submission attempts, and because he can knock a man out at any distance, including ultra-short range. Even chest-to-chest, Alistair Overeem could probably knock out Fabricio Werdum with one shot. Overeem will have to constantly be on the lookout for submission attempts, yes, but if Overeem lands a solid punch on the ground, this fight has a high chance of being over in an instant.
2. Overeem hasn’t lost in almost four years, and hasn’t been properly submitted in over five.
The last person to officially submit Alistair Overeem was Ricardo Arona, but that was due to strikes. The last person to properly submit Overeem was… Fabricio Werdum. And that was quite a while ago. Overeem hasn’t lost since 2007, and his opponents haven’t gotten past the second round with him since 2007. Other than one No Contest, Overeem has finished all of his opponents since 2007 in the first round. His last victory saw him finish his opponent in a mere 19 seconds. To say that Alistair Overeem is coming into this fight riding a wave of momentum is a vast understatement.
And the number-one reason Alistair Overeem could beat Fabricio Werdum is…
1. There are good strikers, and then there are great strikers. And then, above that, there’s Alistair Overeem.
I’ve made my thoughts known on the whole “K-1 Level” debate, but in a nutshell: I think a good striker is a good striker and saying a fighter’s striking is at a “K-1 Level” doesn’t mean anything. What matters is that Alistair Overeem is a champion kickboxer in the world’s most famous and most prestigious kickboxing organization. The man has muscles on top of muscles which are on top of other muscles, and he’s got hands of solid concrete. No one, absolutely no one, has shown an ability to take Overeem’s punches for a prolonged period of time. Pound-for-pound, Overeem is one of the best strikers in all of MMA right now. And that’s definitely the number-one advantage he has over the submission-based Fabricio Werdum.