(pic via MiddleEasy’s twitter)
Another night, another MMA event … this time it’s the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix quarter finals finally coming to an end. Here’s your breakdown on all the action from the fights!
Alistair Overeem vs Fabricio Werdum
“Yeah, I used to watch MMA but found that the main events never live up to the hype any more.” I first started hearing this around UFC 112 and it continues to be a common (and somewhat legit) complaint. Tonight’s main event played into that as Fabricio Werdum’s ‘secret weapon’ was turned out to be flopping onto his butt and pulling guard at every opportunity. The situation was made worse by Alistair Overeem refusing to have anything to do with Werdum on the ground. Smart to avoid your opponent’s strenghts I guess but when both guys are doing it, not much gets accomplished.
Still, fights start on the feet and the ref wasn’t interested in letting Werdum lay on the ground, even when he seemed ready to roll, buttscoot and crabcrawl his way towards the Reem. Every time there’d be a stand up, the two would throw a few combos before Fabricio dropped to the ground again. Rinse and repeat for three rounds and you’ve got Overeem vs Werdum in a nutshell.
Overeem got the 30-27, 30-27, 29-28 decision based on the more effective / damaging striking, plus he wasn’t dropping to the mat every 30 seconds. The ironic thing here though is that when Werdum was on his feet battling with strikes he was doing pretty well. This may have had to do with Overeem being on the defensive against takedowns rather than strikes, but it took that last bit of love Overeem should have gotten for beating Werdum and muddied it up.
Josh Barnett vs Brett Rogers
Poor Brett. He showed some promise by beating Andrei Arlovski and from there he gets thrown into a situation where he’s fighting a murderer’s row of crazy skilled opponents. Fedor, Overeem, and now Barnett. Josh didn’t even pretend he was interested in striking on the feet – the first leg kick Brett threw was caught and used to set up a big slam and from there Rogers was on his back for pretty much the rest of the fight, with a large portion of that stuck under Josh’s mount.
If Brett thought he was getting another chance after surviving til the end of round one, he was mistaken: Josh tossed him right back down onto the ground and straight into mount 5 seconds into the second. From there it took another minute to secure an arm triangle choke that was tapped to prematurely … but what’s a few seconds difference in a situation like that? Brett was screwed the moment this fight got signed. Maybe now he can be matched up against some more fitting opposition and built up at a less insane pace.
As for Barnett, his performance didn’t seem to impress people at the event. They started booing about two minutes into his less than devastating mount position. It looked like things were devolving into Gilbert Yvel fight territory but fortunately Josh gave up on the ground and pound (plz to be trane-ing that more, k?) and moved to submissions and got’r done. He also tried to pull off another pro wrestling promo for his post-fight interview, and while I appreciated not having to listen to Gus Johnson, it wasn’t anything spectacular. A+ for effort though.
The rest of the fights after the jump…
KJ Noons vs Jorge Masvidal
So much for KJ Noons’ boxing being an unstoppable force in MMA. Jorge Masvidal took Noons apart across three rounds, outstriking him effortlessly, wrecking him with knees, and scoring takedowns for ground and pound just because he felt like it. The first round ended with a giant cut on Noons’ forehead pissing blood. The second resulted in a nice egg of a hematoma growing right next to it. I don’t recall if there were any more specific wounds dealt out in round three but Masvidal kept the damage kept flowing throughout the entire fight.
This was a pretty damn great showing from Masvidal and Strikeforce now has a contender for Gilbert Melendez that isn’t Josh Thomson, so that’s nice. As for KJ Noons – he may have lost, but he never stopped fighting hard and chasing the knockout. It should be interesting to see who he fights next.
Daniel Cormier vs Jeff Monson
Daniel Cormier took the next step forward in his MMA career tonight by effortlessly beating Jeff Monson in a stand up battle. The gameplan was simple: keep Monson on his feet and grind him up, and that’s exactly what happened. All three judges scored the fight 30-27, and while Jeff occasionally landed some decent strikes he never really got anything effective going.
I’m kinda bummed out about that. This was Jeff’s shot at coming back into the big leagues and he barely even tried to take it to the ground, as if putting his effort into dragging Cormier down was beneath him or something. Maybe he just felt like he couldn’t take an Olympic wrestler down, but goddamnit he should have at least tried. It was quite clear after round 1 that he wasn’t going to win this on the feet.
As for Cormier, he basically used the cage time to get more comfortable on the feet. He looked good, but lacked the power he’s shown in some past fights against lesser opponents. It will be very interesting to see him fight guys that can really test him. Beating Jeff Monson adds a nice legit name to his record but it’s too bad his original opponent Shane Del Rosario couldn’t make it to the event. Now that’s a fight I’d like to see.
Chad Griggs vs Valentijn Overeem
I hate fights that feel like set ups. That’s why I love Chad Griggs. This is the third time he’s been put into matchups where he’s quite clearly expected to lose. But he keeps on defying expectations … or in this case showing people that the last name ‘Overeem’ isn’t MMAgical. He came in quick and hard and dragged Overeem to the ground, ground and pounding him until Valentijn covered up and was in the middle of tapping when the ref stopped the fight. After seeing that, it’s pretty clear why this Overeem brother has a 29-26 record. Maybe he can deliver the beats too, but he certainly doesn’t seem to be able to take them.
Gesias Cavalcante vs Justin Wilcox
This was another lightweight fight that allegedly had title implications, but no one’s getting a shot at the belt how this one turned out. 31 seconds into round 2, Cavalcante stuck his hands out and Justin Wilcox lunged his eyeball right into JZ’s outstretched fingers. From the way he was rolling around on the canvas kicking and moaning, it was pretty clear the fight was over. What a comeback for Gesias Cavalcante. Sigh.