On Saturday night, Strikeforce's "Overeem vs. Werdum" event answered some questions, but also revealed a multitude of other mysteries yet to be resolved.
Before we go over the highlights (and subsequent lowlights) of the card, here are the results:
- Vallie-Flagg defeated Melancon via split decision
- Nah-Shon Burrell defeated Joe Ray via unanimous decision
- Conor Heune defeated Magno Almeida via unanimous decision
- Gesias Cavalcante & Justin Wilcox ruled 'No Decision' due to accidental eyepoke
- Chad Griggs defeated Valentijn Overeem via TKO (strikes) at 2:08 of round 1.
- Daniel Cormier defeated Jeff Monson via unanimous decision
- Jorge Masvidal defeated K.J. Noons via unanimous decision
- Josh Barnett defeated Brett Rogers via submission (arm triangle choke) at 1:17 of round 2.
- Alistair Overeem defeated Fabricio Werdum via unanimous decision
Highlights & Lowlights
The headline fight between Overeem and Werdum was projected to be one of the more exciting fights so far in 2011. It was a rematch between two of the top ranked heavyweights in the world, and there was clearly no love lost between the two. Both fighters talked a ton of smack leading up to the bout. Werdum said that Overeem was "his son", inferring that he feels a sense of dominance/ownership due to the last time he beat him (in 2006). Overeem said that he is a different fighter, that he would be more aggressive than ever, and that we would all note the "40 pounds of whoop-ass" difference between now and the last time they faced each other. Overeem did win the fight, but was he a winner overall? After being unable to finish Werdum (or really even seriously hurt him), and appearing to gas by the third round (if not sooner), it will be hard for anyone to consider him in serious contention for #1 overall spot for heavyweight MMA fighters globally. In a lot of ways, it's unfair. Werdum went out of his way to make the fight a slow, clumsy, boring fight. He refused to really engage, and at times, he looked downright silly as he flopped to the ground and just laid there, hoping/praying for Overeem to jump into his guard. Many (myself included) still felt Overeem could have done more to cement his victory during the stand-up exchanges that did occur.
The fight between K.J. Noons and Jorge Masvidal was billed as a lightweight #1 contender eiliminator match. In multiple interviews, Noons appeared to be looking past Masvidal and planning for his fight with Gilbert Melendez. Masvidal appeared to take umbrage, and made good on his promise to "send Noons to the hospital". By the end of the fight, Noons' face was barely recognizable. He had a nasty hematoma over his right eye (not Hominick status, but pretty ugly), and cuts and bruises all over. Masvidal completely dominated Noons in every way, and ceretainly deserves a title shot with the victory. The question is: Will he get one? At no point, during the pre-fight press conference or interviews, did Scott Coker ever fully commit to the winner of this fight getting a title shot. He used words/terms like : "probably" and "most likely". The truth is that it isn't Coker's call anymore. The dog-and-pony show was cute, but we're bored with it now. Coker is clearly just a puppet and is not running anything. Reports are now coming out that the fight between Masvidal and Melendez is off the table due to a leg injury sustained by Masvidal in the fight against Noons (SOURCE). I've not seen this officially confirmed anywhere yet, but regardless, I don't believe the fight was going to be made. It was fun to pretend, and it made more people tune in on Saturday night, but Melendez is UFC bound, just like his 'scrap pack' buddy Nick Diaz. It's only a matter of time. Just wait. You'll see.
I can't make up my mind about Josh Barnett. It seems like people either love him or hate him. I'm not sure I feel either way. He tries hard to come off as the 'heel', but it just doesn't jive. It feels forced and unnatural. I think he's a funny guy. I think he's a really good fighter. I think he can also be a jerk, when he wants to be. I think he showed what he is on Saturday night, for better or worse. He's one of the top guys, but I don't think he'll ever be THE top guy. He was supposed to beat Brett Rogers. He was supposed to dominate him on the ground. Don't get it twisted. There's a big difference between expectations and following through (see: Overeem). He took care of business. He owes no one an apology for not doing it in record time. Relax. It will be very interesting to see what he's got against Kharitonov, who is a much more well-rounded and experienced opponent than Rogers.
I've said it multiple times in the past, and I'll say it again: The Strikeforce/Showtime trio of Johnson/Ranallo/Shamrock is one of the absolute worst and hardest to watch and listen to in the business. They misspeak, mispronounce, boldly state things falsely, and are wrong a good percentage of the time. Gus Johnson's "stage makeup" has been the subject of ridicule on MMA messageboards worldwide for some time now. You'd think someone close to him would step in and help him out. You'd be wrong. I'm not trying to cheap shot the guy. If he had some kind of awful skin disorder, you can believe I'd leave it alone. To the best of my knowledge, he doesn't, and so there's just no reason for him to consistently look like he's about to perform in a three ring circus. It's too much. Mauro Ranallo never stops being 'fake-excited'. His timing is unbelievably bad, and his understanding of the sport may be worse. At one point during the Cormier-Monson fight, Ranallo suggested that Cormier (whose fights had not previously gone into deep waters) may have chosen to purposely not finish Monson, so that he could get some more experience and cage time. Later in the broadcast, he accidentally referred to Frank Shamrock as his brother: "Ken". I understand it's an easy mistake to make, but due to the publicly jagged relationship and past between Frank and Ken, and the fact that he's his broadcast partner who he's worked with for years, it's a slip that was beyond embarrassing. Anyone else would have been mortified, but it was just another day at the office for Mauro. Frank Shamrock was not innocent in the shedding of journalistic integrity. During the Rogers-Barnett fight, Shamrock warned that Barnett needed to be wary of a potential kneebar by Brett Rogers. This is ludicrous because: A) Rogers, at that time, was in the middle eating a mouthful of Barnett's armpit, and was in no position to submit anything or anyone, and B) Brett Rogers has the ground game of a fire hydrant. You might be asking: A fire hydrant? Really? Is that just the first inanimate object you could think of? Yep. Pretty much. During the Masvidal-Noons fight, Shamrock attempted to wow the audience with his technical knowledge by using the term "upper jab". My brain won't even let my mouth (or fingers, in this case) comment on that. It's too dumb to fathom. Again, the UFC can't absorb Strikeforce fast enough for my taste, and The Three Stooges are enough of a reason for me and then some.
Last, but not least, Conor Heun is tough son of a gun. Let's be real, he's a bad dude. During his fight against BJJ specialist Magno Almeida, he was caught, several times, in awful positions, where he appeared to have no choice but to tap. He opted out, and received a gruesome arm injury because of it. During one of Almeida's deep armbar attempts, Heun, apparently dislocated his right elbow (see a picture of it HERE). Not only did he not quit, he continued, and won the fight! I love technical strikers. I can't get enough of watching expert jiu jitsu practitioners. That being said, I'll pass on either of those guys, any day, to see a fighter whose specialty is 'heart'. Heun represents everything that initially made me an MMA fan. His grit and toughness, combined with the fighting skills he does possess (he's not just heart), make him a worthy opponent for any 155'er. Hats off to the kid from Boulder, Colorado. Well done.