On June 18, 2011 in Dallas, Texas two monster heavyweight clashes will take place. The first pits hard-hitting Brett Rogers against former UFC champion Josh Barnett. That matchup is intriguing but the main event is the fight that everyone wants to see.
Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair "The Demolition Man" Overeem and Fabricio "Vai Cavalo" Werdum have met once before, in 2006 under the Pride organization. Werdum won the first bout by submission via kimura. Since that time, they have each come a long way in their respective careers.
After a disappointing stint in UFC that saw him suffer a devastating knockout to Junior Dos Santos in the younger man's debut, Fabricio has had huge success in Strikeforce. In 2009, Werdum had his first Strikeforce bout, and since then he has won all three of his bouts. He has defeated Mike Kyle, Antonio Silva and Fedor Emelianenko for an impressive three-fight win streak. His win over Fedor was the Russian's first defeat in 10 years.
Werdum is at an all-time high in his career. Can he beat Overeem and advance to the semifinals of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix? That is the question and the challenge he now faces.
After his loss to Werdum in 2006, Alistair Overeem has completely reestablished himself as a fighter. Since that loss, his MMA record has been stellar. Overeem has gone 11-4 with one controversial no contest against Mirko Cro Cop in a fight he was dominating.
Overeem has now not lost an MMA fight in almost four years. In 2010 he had an amazing year. In that calender year he defended his Strikeforce heavyweight title, won an interim belt in a fight for the Dream organization and became the first MMA fighter to win the K1 World Grand Prix.
Things have drastically changed for each man since their fight in Pride five long years ago. The true question here is what has changed from their first meeting until now?
Werdum has added several key wins, much bigger wins than Overeem; however, his game has changed little if at all. Overeem has changed greatly. Since 2006, Overeem has turned himself into a complete fighter and a man that many heavyweights like to criticize, but if they were locked in a cage with him they would be feeling much different.
Overeem changed from a 220-pound man that cut weight to be a light heavyweight. In the time after he left Pride and the present day, he has added over 30 pounds of lean muscle to his frame. On top of this he has improved his striking by leaps and bounds. He is now a faster and stronger man than Werdum defeated in 2006.
It is Werdum who has faced the tougher competition and won those battles more often than not.
Overeem has typically lost his biggest fights. Since his loss to Werdum, Overeem has rarely fought top notch competition. This is something that would be a detriment to most fighters but Alistair is not a typical fighter. He has not fought a top MMA fighter for some time, but he has greatly improved as an athlete. His striking has improved by leaps and bounds. After a great year in 2010, he is poised to avenge a loss that has been on his mind for a long time.
Werdum is looking to prove he is the best heavyweight in the world and he is finally past his brutal knockout loss at UFC 90. Werdum has the submission game and jiu jitsu prowess to submit Overeem again, I just don't think he will have a chance to do so. Overeem has better defense and speed than he did in 2006. Overeem is also a much better striker with the strength to knock people out with both hands, knees or kicks.
Overeem will overwhelm Werdum and move on to the semifinals of the Strikeforce tournament.