It was not the fight anyone expected when Alistair Overeem and Fabricio Werdum met in the main event in Strikeforce on Saturday night.
There were words like revenge and redemption used before the fight, but after it was over the definition of the fight was lackluster and bizarre.
It was a clear contrast of styles when Overeem, a K-1 kickboxing Grand Prix champion, met Fabricio Werdum, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ace, and the result was an underwhelming performance by two heavyweights that were both gassed by the end of the fight.
From the opening second of the fight, Werdum was working tirelessly to get Overeem to the ground, but after a few telegraphed shots didn’t work, the Brazilian instead tried to pull guard.
That didn’t work either.
Time and again, Werdum fell to the mat and tried to coax Overeem into a ground fight, but the Dutchman was having none of it.
“He’s one of the best grapplers in the world, I consider him the best grappler in MMA, so we don’t want to play with him on the ground,” Overeem said after the fight.
On the feet, Werdum wasn’t actually doing bad, as he landed shots on Overeem every time he decided to step forward and get aggressive, but then he’d back off and once again attempt to pull the fight to the mat.
Despite the shots being landed by Werdum, the powerful Overeem shrugged him off and said his opponent did ‘nothing’ with his strikes.
While his combinations disappeared for the entire 15 minutes, Overeem did manage to land a few big power shots that were likely the difference on the judges’ scorecards. A big knee glanced Werdum at one point as well as a few heavy punches that rattled him.
Their first fight was a back and forth affair that ended with Werdum pulling off a kimura submission from the bottom, working from the guard. The rematch was a far cry because neither fighter possessed the killer instinct to put the other away, and while Overeem won a unanimous decision he definitely didn’t sway many people into believing he could even argue for being the top heavyweight in the sport.
Overeem’s next opponent will be another Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt in Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva, who was an underdog going into his first round match-up against Fedor Emelianenko, and will likely be an underdog in his fight with the Strikeforce heavyweight champion as well. Silva however will likely gain a fair amount of confidence after the lackluster performance by Overeem.
“Giant Silva is next, I’m going to be ready for him too,” Overeem said.
Judging by Saturday night’s performance, Overeem got a win and may rise in the rankings as he moves onto the semifinals of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, but he didn’t gain many fans even in victory over Fabricio Werdum.