My feeling following last night’s anti-climatic Strikeforce: Overeem Vs Werdum event was that more fighters reputations were damaged rather than enhanced.
Below we take a closer look at who’s stock rose and who’s dropped following their performances in the cage in Dallas, Texas.
Barnett was most people’s favorite to win against Brett Rogers, but there was still some doubt whether the veteran’s still had what it takes after several years out in the wilderness fighting less than stellar competition in Japan.
While it wasn’t a particularly flashy or exciting performance, what he proved last night is that he’s still an intelligent, methodical fighter who still has a dangerous ground game.
Rogers relative lack of skills on the mat has to be kept in mind here, but still, given the way the other quarter-final of the evening went, it won’t be a great surprise if Barnett is now considered to not only be a stronger bet to get to the final, but also to have a real chance at winning the grand-prix outright.
For me Masvidal was the star performer on the night. Outboxing KJ Noons, a former pro-boxe, is no easy task but he managed to do so with aplomb thanks to his superior speed, movement and counter-striking, and not only that but handed Noons the most one-sided beating of his career in the process.
The fact that Masvidal was also able to display that he has a solid ground game to go with his striking was really the icing on the cake here, and despite there being no official confirmation yet, there’s no doubt in my mind that he should get the next shot at Gilbert Melendez’ lightweight title.
The only downside to all this is that I didn’t follow through on my hunch that Masvidal was going to beat Noons. In my pre-fight predictions I laid out how people were underestimating his boxing skills and noted how mixing up his striking with takedowns could be the key to victory, and then chickened out at the last minute, reasoning that Noons more aggressive style would sway the judges. Bah!
Despite initially being drafted to Strikeforce as a lamb to the slaughter for former WWE star Bobby Lashley, Griggs has now confounded the critics to go 3-0 for the promotion after an easy win over Valentijn Overeem.
Griggs himself admitted after the fight that he’s still not sure whether people are ready to take him seriously or not despite his winning streak, and I think there’s probably a degree of truth to that.
While it’s unlikely that Strikeforce are going to start throwing him into big name fights, he’s now proven himself to be no pushover and is the type of fighter that likes to throwdown and finish fights (all 12 of his pro-fights have ended inside the distance). As such he’s now got a firm foot in the door and is unlikely to be cast aside the first time he suffers a defeat.
Given that no-one had clue who he was less than a year ago that’s not bad going.
He may have emerged with a unanimous decision victory, but I can’t help but feel that Overeem’s stock dropped a little last night.
Of course Werdum has to take a lot of the blame for his spoiling tactics during the fight, but though Overeem did well to consistently stuff his takedowns and wisely steered clear of being suckered into the ground game, he still looked out of sorts.
He never really let his hands or his knees go as we know he can, and surprisingly when Werdum did engage he was actually having some success. The fact that Overeem looked tired and was breathing heavy by the third round will also be a concern.
He still won which is the main thing so it’s not a catastrophy, but considering that there’s been a lot of talk about how Overeem stacks up in the world heavyweight rankings, there looked to be a number of holes in his game here compared to recent performances by the likes of Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos.
After all the high of becoming the first man to defeat Fedor Emelianenko in a decade, this performance quickly brought Werdum crashing back down to earth.
The strategy to take Overeem to the ground at any cost seemed sensible at first, but after going 0-7 in takedown attempts in the first round and gassing himself out in the process it was clear he needed to change things up.
Werdum didn’t appear to have a plan B though, and continued on in the same vein for the next two rounds, resulting in a somewhat shambolic and embarrassing display.
As a result not only is he out of the tournament, but on top of that nobody’s going to be in a hurry to see him fight again.
Losing so decisively to Masvidal will be a bitter pill for Noons to swallow. His reputation was built upon his boxing abilities, but he’s now been outstruck in each of his last two fights, while last night his takedown defense was also exposed as being a weak link.
Noons came into Strikeforce with a bit of momentum thanks to his past reputation as an Elite XC champ which enabled him to secure both an almost immediate welterweight title shot and a No.1 contender bout at lightweight afterwards, but now he’s slipped down the pecking order and will have to work hard to fight his way back up into conention.
This was another bad night at the office for Brett Rogers, something that’s been happening far too often of late.
Rogers found himself thrust into the Strikeforce spotlight off the back of his reputation as a heavy-hitter, which was confirmed when he KO’d a chinny Andrei Arlovski in just 22 seconds. That lead to big fights coming his way, but on reflection his 0-3 Strikeforce record since shows that perhaps he was flattering to deceive a little and simply wasn’t ready for that step up in competition so quickly.
While I still think he’s worth having on the roster, this latest loss confirms that Rogers doesn’t belong in the top-tier heavyweight mix.
It’s fair to say that Valentijn Overeem’s stock crashed last night after a frankly embarrassing display against Chad Griggs, though to be fair nobody was claiming him to be a legimate heavyweight contender anyway.
Overeem’s heart and commitment has been questioned for some time now, and they were fully exposed last night when he appeared to be looking for a way out the minute Griggs took him down and started peppering him with strikes. Though the fight was officially declared as a TKO it was clearly evident that Overeem was tapping, and Griggs later confirmed that the fighter was in fact shouting for the bout to be stopped.
On this evidence there’s little doubt that Overeem needs to hang up his gloves and progress to the next stage in his life as the cage is not the place to be if you’re not 100% committed.