Strikeforce Overeem vs. Werdum: Info and Predictions for Every Fight on the Card

Nick CaronAnalyst IJune 14, 2011

Strikeforce Overeem vs. Werdum: Info and Predictions for Every Fight on the Card

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    UFC 131 is in the books and the Dallas Mavericks have just won the NBA championship, but the MMA community and city of Dallas will be shifting its attention to the next huge Zuffa event, this Saturday night at Strikeforce: Overeem vs. Werdum.

    Bleacher Report is here with information and predictions for each of the 10 fights on this important Strikeforce card.

    Though some of the fighters on this big event are not as well known to the casual fan, the highly anticipated Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament will be continuing in both the main event and semi-main event.

    Alistair Overeem vs. Fabricio Werdum and Brett Rogers vs. Josh Barnett will be competing in quarterfinals fights.

    Also making his Strikeforce debut in Dallas will be veteran fighter and former UFC No. 1 contender, Jeff “The Snowman” Monson as he faces up-and-comer Daniel Cormier.

    So without further ado, let’s take a look at the Strikeforce: Overeem vs. Werdum fight card!

Brian Melancon vs. Isaac Vallie-Flagg

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    Brian Melancon

    Brian Melancon (5-1)
    Height: Unknown
    Weight: 155 pounds
    Wins: 3 knockout, 1 submission, 1 decision
    Losses: 0 knockout, 0 submission, 1 decision

    Isaac Vallie-Flag (11-3-1)
    Height: 5’10”
    Weight: 155 pounds
    Wins: 5 knockouts, 3 submissions, 3 decisions
    Losses: 0 knockouts, 3 submissions, 0 decisions

    Fight Information:

    The lightweight opener at Strikeforce: Overeem vs. Werdum will feature the Strikeforce debuts of both Brian Melancon and Isaac Vallie-Flag.

    Vallie-Flagg, a member of Jackson’s MMA, has been fighting since his debut in 2003. His is yet to make an appearance in a national organization, but has now avoided losses in nine straight fights. His most recent loss came all the way back in July 2007.

    Melancon is a younger fighter who debuted in 2009, but has already put together an impressive 5-1 career record in the sport. Four of his five victories have come by way of punches (including one due to submission from punches).

    Fight Prediction:
    Brian Melancon has only fought once on a national level, at Bellator 20 when he lost to Adam Schindler by unanimous decision. It was an exciting back-and-forth slugfest, but Melacon did show a potential chink in his armor by being clipped a few times.

    While he did recover and make it to a decision, he was largely dominated through the fight and did not look to be particularly technically gifted.

    It is because of Melancon’s lack of experience and wild style that I will be taking the more experienced Isaac Vallie-Flag to grind out a decision in this one.

    Isaac Vallie-Flag by Decision

Todd Moore vs. Mike Bronzoulis

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    Mike Bronzoulis

    Todd Moore (13-4)
    Height: 5’9”
    Weight: 170 pounds
    Wins: 8 knockouts, 0 submissions, 5 decisions
    Losses: 1 knockout, 2 submissions, 1 decision

    Mike Bronzoulis (12-2-1)
    Height: 6’0”
    Weight: 170 pounds
    Wins: 8 knockouts, 2 submissions, 1 decision, 1 disqualification
    Losses: 0 knockouts, 1 submission, 1 decisions

    Fight Information:

    Todd “Maniac” Moore” will look to get back on a win streak after dropping four of his past seven contests. Of course, two of those losses came against highly respected lightweights in Shinya Aoki and Shane Roller. Now fighting at 170 pounds, Moore may have a new lease on his MMA career.

    Mike Bronzoulis has been slowly inching his way up to the big show and finally has a chance to make a name in Zuffa after successful runs in Legacy and Shark Fights. He is the winner of four straight fights, including three since this past November.

    Bronzoulis has done some major damage with his punches in the past and even fought to a majority draw with the UFC’s Kamal Shalorus back in 2009.

    Fight Prediction:
    Expect another standup war in this one with 16 of these fighters’ 25 combined wins coming by way of knockout throughout their careers.

    Given Bronzoulis’ height advantage and experience fighting in the welterweight division, he may have the advantage in natural size. In a fight on the feet, that can often be the most important factor.

    Mike Bronzoulis by knockout, Round 2

Nah-Shon Burrell vs. Joe Ray

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    Joe Ray

    Nah-Shon Burrell (5-1)
    Height: 6’1”
    Weight: 170 pounds
    Wins: 5 knockouts, 0 submissions, 0 decisions
    Losses: 0 knockouts, 0 submissions, 1 decision

    Joe Ray (5-1)
    Height: 5’11”
    Weight: 170 pounds
    Wins: 3 knockouts, 2 submissions, 0 decisions
    Losses: 0 knockouts, 0 submissions, 1 decision

    Fight Information:

    Nah-Shon Burrell has knocked out every opponent in each of his five career wins so far, the most recent coming by way of a knee to Daryl Harris at Cage Fury’s “Seek and Destroy” event in May. He has only gone to one decision in his career, which came as a loss to Christopher Curtis (5-2).

    Joe Ray returns to Strikeforce after making his MMA debut for the promotion back in January 2010 when he defeated John Clarke by way of TKO in round 1.

    Since that night, he has pushed his career record to 5-1 which includes a win over UFC vet Chad Reiner and a submission over Bellator’s John Kelly.

    Like Burrell, Ray’s only loss came by a decision in a tightly contested fight against Jeremy Smith, who was also undefeated at the time.

    Fight Prediction:

    In a bout between two guys who have not fared well with the judges, it can often come down to which fighter is able to avoid damage the best while finding his own opportunity to strike.

    Nah-Shon Burrell has been mostly fighting lower-level local talent thus far in his career and will be up for likely the biggest test against the offensive skills possessed by Ray.

    While Ray himself has a lot to work on in the defensive department, his skills in that area have been improving and also been fighting against better competition.

    If Joe Ray can avoid being taken down, as he has struggled with before, he should be able to win a standup battle with Burrell.

    Joe Ray by knockout, Round 3

Conor Heun vs. Magno Almeida

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    Conor Heun

    Conor Heun (8-4)
    Height: 5’10”
    Weight: 155 pounds
    Wins: 1 knockout, 5 submissions, 2 decisions
    Losses: 0 knockouts, 0 submissions, 4 decisions

    Magno Almeida (9-1-1)
    Height: 6’0”
    Weight: 155 pounds
    Wins: 0 knockouts, 8 submissions, 0 decisions, 1 unknown
    Losses: 0 knockouts, 0 submissions, 1 decision

    Fight Information:

    Two submission experts will be going at it when lightweights Conor Heun and Magno Almeida meet on Saturday night.

    Heun, who fights out of Legends MMA gym in Colorado, has been fighting in the big shows since he debuted for the IFL back in 2007. Since then, he has fought in ShoXC, EliteXC and now Strikeforce.

    Unfortunately, he has lost back-to-back fights in Strikeforce to Jorge Gurgel and KJ Noons, both by way of decision. He was scheduled to fight James Terry on April 1, but was forced out of the fight due to a knee injury.

    On the other side of the cage, Magno Almeida will be competing in his first major event in this fight. He has been called a bit one-dimensional by some, but that one dimension has been extremely successful as he has earned submissions in each of his MMA victories.

    Fight Prediction:

    This should be a good grappling contest if it gets to the ground between two fighters who know what they’re doing. But it should be advantage: Almeida if it gets to that point.

    In fact, Heun Tweeted on June 8 that he is planning to knock out Almeida.

    If Heun is willing to accept that he is likely the inferior fighter on the ground, then he may be a bit nervous in his striking as he avoids trying to be taken down; thus negating his standup advantage.

    Magno Almeida by submission, Round 2

Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante vs. Justin Wilcox

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    JZ Cavalcante

    JZ Cavalcante (15-4-1)
    Height: 5’8”
    Weight: 155 pounds
    Wins: 5 knockouts, 7 submissions, 3 decisions
    Losses: 0 knockouts, 0 submissions, 4 decisions

    Justin Wilcox (8-4)
    Height: 5’6”
    Weight: 155 pounds
    Wins: 2 knockouts, 1 submissions, 8 decisions
    Losses: 1 knockouts, 2 submissions, 0 decisions

    Fight Information:

    Former American Top-Team fighter JZ “Gesias” Cavalcante will be fighting in his first contest since leaving the team earlier this year. Despite fighting some of the top fighters on the planet, JZ’s losses in three of his past four fights prompted him to look for a new team. He will now be representing Imperial Athletics.

    Cavalcante will have a difficult task in front of him when he fights former bodybuilder and NCAA Division I wrestler Justin Wilcox. Wilcox struggled early in his career, losing two of his first three fights, but then joined his college wrestling teammate Josh Koscheck at American Kickboxing Academy.

    Things have been excellent for Wilcox since making that decision and he is currently riding a six fight win streak coming into Saturday night’s fight.

    Fight Prediction:

    JZ Cavalcante was once considered one of the top up-and-coming lightweights on the planet, but chronic knee injuries have halted what was once an extremely promising career.

    At only 27 years old, he still has plenty of time to turn things around, but his lack of success has come primarily in fights that have gone to judges’ decisions.

    Unfortunately for him, Wilcox has been a master of grinding out decisions, with eight of his 11 career victories coming on the judges’ scorecards. Worse yet, Wilcox has not yet lost a decision in his career.

    Justin Wilcox by decision

Valentijn Overeem vs. Chad Griggs

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    Chad Griggs

    Valentijn Overeem (29-25)
    Height: 6’3”
    Weight: 239 pounds
    Wins: 11 knockouts, 17 submissions, 1 decision
    Losses: 9 knockouts, 15 submissions, 1 decision

    Chad Griggs (10-1)
    Height: 6’3”
    Weight: 229 pounds
    Wins: 9 knockouts, 1 submission, 3 decisions
    Losses: 0 knockouts, 1 submission, 0 decisions

    Fight Information:

    The older brother of the Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem, Valentijn Overeem is riding a three fight win streak, including a victory over K-1 legend Ray Sefo in his Strikeforce debut in February.

    He had lost six of his previous eight fights going back to 2004, but appears to have reinvigorated his career along with his younger brother.

    His opponent in this fight will be up-and-coming Strikeforce heavyweight Chad “Grave Digger” Griggs who has surprised experts by winning back-to-back fights as an underdog in Strikeforce.

    He made his debut against former WWE superstar Bobby Lashley as a +550 underdog, but crushed him and moved on to defeat Gian Villante in his second fight for the promotion.

    Fight Prediction:

    In a fight which could determine an alternate for the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament, look for Chad Griggs to continue to surprise as he gives a beating to the much more experienced Overeem.

    Griggs and his Elvis-like sideburns will need to keep the fight on the feet to be at an advantage, but he has shown the ability to do that in the past.

    Chad Griggs by knockout, Round 2

Daniel Cormier vs. Jeff Monson

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    Jeff Monson

    Daniel Cormier (7-0)
    Height: 5’11”
    Weight: 249 pounds
    Wins: 3 knockouts, 3 submissions, 1 decision
    Losses: 0 knockouts, 0 submissions, 0 decisions

    Jeff Monson (42-11)
    Height: 5’9”
    Weight: 230 pounds
    Wins: 2 knockouts, 26 submissions, 14 decisions
    Losses: 2 knockouts, 2 submissions, 7 decisions

    Fight Information:

    This classic veteran-versus-prospect fight that could very well be the final run toward a title for Jeff “The Snowman” Monson as he fights the undefeated Daniel Cormier.

    Despite now being in his 40’s, Monson has competed like a madman in recent years, fighting in 12 bouts over the past 18 months. Normally this kind of activity is done only by relative newcomers as they get their feet wet in the sport. But Monson’s desire to get back into the title hunt has led him to Strikeforce.

    Daniel Cormier is a 32-year old fighter who only recently made his debut in September 2009. In just that time, though, he has run his record to 7-0, using punches to finish six of the seven bouts.

    He was scheduled to fight fellow undefeated heavyweight Shane Del Rosario in this event, but Del Rosario had to pull out due to injuries he sustained in a car accident.

    Fight Prediction:

    It’s not often that a 32-year old has a significant age advantage, but that’s what Cormier has in this fight. Not only that, but Cormier has the heavier hands of the two fighters as well as the more more technical skills on the feet.

    However, Jeff Monson has fought opponents like this before. Daniel Cormier is a talented fighter, but he doesn’t really possess any skills that Monson hasn’t seen before.

    These two fighters have combined for 15 straight victories, but one of them will be coming to an end in this one. In this case, I look for “The Snowman” to bring the fight to the ground where he will use his vastly superior Jiu-Jitsu to submit Cormier late in the fight.

    Jeff Monson by submission, Round 3

KJ Noons vs. Jorge Masvidal

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    KJ Noons

    KJ Noons (10-3)

    Height: 5’11”
    Weight: 170 pounds
    Wins: 8 knockouts, 0 submissions, 2 decision
    Losses: 1 knockouts, 1 submissions, 1 decisions

    Jorge Masvidal (21-6)

    Height: 5’10”
    Weight: 170 pounds
    Wins: 10 knockouts, 1 submissions, 10 decisions
    Losses: 1 knockout, 2 submissions, 3 decisions

    Fight Information:

    Former EliteXC welterweight champion and the last man to have defeated Nick Diaz back in 2007, KJ Noons, will attempt to restart his ascent toward the top again on Saturday night.

    Noons recently lost a rematch with Diaz for the Strikeforce welterweight title last October, but had been on a six fight win streak coming into that fight. He possesses some of the best boxing skills in the division.

    Jorge Masvidal has dropped two of his past four fights, but has also been bouncing back-and-forth between the welterweight and lightweight divisions. Thankfully, his last fight in March was also at 155, so one would hope that his body has adapted to the weight for this contest.

    Fight Prediction:

    KJ Noons is listed as a big favorite and for good reason. His boxing skills have the potential to knock just about anyone out and Masvidal has struggled with heavy-handed fighters like Paul Daley in the past.

    KJ Noons by decision

Josh Barnett vs. Brett Rogers

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    Josh Barnett (29-5)
    Height: 6’3”
    Weight: 250 pounds
    Wins: 7 knockouts, 17 submissions, 4 decision, 1 disqualification
    Losses: 1 knockouts, 2 submissions, 2 decisions

    Brett Rogers (11-2)
    Height: 6’4”
    Weight: 265 pounds
    Wins: 10 knockouts, 0 submissions, 1 decision
    Losses: 2 knockouts, 0 submissions, 0 decisions

    Fight Information:

    The first of two Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix quarterfinals fights will feature former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett as he fights Brett “Da Grim” Rogers.

    Barnett has been listed as a fairly significant betting favorite in this fight and, really, it’s hard to argue with that. At 29-5, Barnett had already been fighting seemingly forever while Rogers was still working retail up in Minnesota. His well-rounded skill set makes him a dangerous opponent for anyone in the world and he has the track record to prove it.

    On the other side, Brett Rogers is still a relatively inexperienced fighter who is looking to shock the world once again with a big victory. Rogers first made a splash by crushing then-top-five-ranked heavyweight Andrei Arlovski in just 22 seconds back in 2009. He then took an undefeated record into a fight with the world’s top-ranked heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko.

    Though Rogers was eventually knocked out by Fedor, his performance shocked many fans who expected the bout to be a completely one-sided beatdown. It ended up that Rogers landed quite a few shots and scuffed up Emelianenko pretty well before catching a thunderous punch to the jaw.

    Rogers then lost a decisive first round knockout to Alistair Overeem before getting back in the win column by defeating Ruben Villreal last October.

    Fight Prediction:

    Josh Barnett is one of the greatest heavyweights of all-time and it’s really hard to go against him given the obvious skills he has displayed throughout his career. But I also believe that Brett Rogers’ skills are being heavily overlooked going into this fight.

    No, he’s not likely to throw up a gogoplata and submit Barnett, but there seems to be this perception that Rogers has absolutely no ground game, despite there never being any evidence to that point in any of his fights. No, he hasn’t attempted to bring fights to the ground, but considering the power he possesses in his hands, why would he?

    Rogers displayed surprising skills off of his back in the fight with Fedor which are being completely neglected by the experts who are predicting Barnett in an easy submission victory.

    Barnett may very well win the fight, but I don’t expect it to be anywhere near as one-sided as some are assuming it will be. In fact, I believe that Rogers will surprise a lot of people when he lands a big punch that hurts Barnett, which he will then capitalize on, finishing the fight by ground-and-pound in the second round.

    Brett Rogers by knockout, Round 2

Alistair Overeem vs. Fabricio Werdum

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    Alistair Overeem (34-11-1)
    Height: 6’5”
    Weight: 265 pounds
    Wins: 14 knockouts, 19 submissions, 1 decision
    Losses: 6 knockouts, 2 submissions, 3 decisions

    Fabricio Werdum (14-4-1)
    Height: 6’4”
    Weight: 238 pounds
    Wins: 4 knockouts, 8 submissions, 2 decisions
    Losses: 1 knockouts, 0 submissions, 3 decisions

    Fight Information:

    The main event for this fight card in Dallas will feature the heavyweight rematch between Strikeforce champion Alistair Overeem and Fabricio Werdum. These two fought all the way back in May 2006 when Werdum won the fight by submission at Pride: Total Elimination Absolute.

    Alistair Overeem is known as one of, if not the most accomplished top-level heavyweight MMA striker on the planet today. His crushing knockouts of Kazuyuki Fujira, Brett Rogers and Todd Duffee in straight fights have left an imprint on the MMA community as a whole.

    Unfortunately, the lack of top-level competition that he has faced has led many to doubt the veteran fighter’s sudden rise to the top.

    Is he really this good, or is he just a product of weak competition?

    His opponent, Fabricio Werdum, defeated the previously thought to be unbeatable Fedor Emelianenko by submission nearly a year ago to-date. That victory skyrocketed his stock as he had also defeated Antonio “Big Foot” Silva not long before that.

    Werdum’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills are among the absolute best in the heavyweight division and he has been looking forward to this rematch to prove his dominance over a fighter he has insulted by calling him his “son.”

    This isn’t just about the tournament. It is also very personal.

    Fight Prediction:

    One might assume that Werdum would be the favorite in this fight given that he won the first fight between the two, but that is not the case. But surprisingly, Overeem has been listed as a -350 favorite against a man he has never defeated and who submitted him in the past.

    Of course, things have changed quite a bit since that day. Both fighters have developed their skills and each is a unanimous top-10 heavyweight today. This is by far the most anticipated first round fight of the tournament and could realistically go either way.

    To quote one of the more popular catchphrases this year, I will simply tell fans, “Don’t blink” when it comes to Overeem vs. Werdum this Saturday night. You won’t want to miss it.

    Alistair Overeem by knockout, Round 1