There is a school of thought out there that Zuffa’s buyout of the Strikeforce apparatus means inevitable doom for the accomplished promotion, that when the heavyweight tournament finishes/December comes/the Showtime contracts expire/the Mayan Calendar decrees, Scott Coker’s baby will go the way of the WEC and Pride FC. No insider past or present will speak on record about the subject, though, so we must only assume that the words of Dana White and company are true, that both brands will co-exist in peaceful harmony. However, if the whispers of impending death are valid, then the Ancient Roman gladiator cry of “morituri et salutamus” – “we who are about to die salute you” – would be quite apropos when Alistair Overeem, Fabricio Werdum, Josh Barnett and Brett Rogers take to the cage on Saturday night. “Saturday night?” you ask. Why yes, that’s when Strikeforce’s “Overeem vs. Werdum”, which features the four remaining Strikeforce heavyweight tournament quarterfinalists battling it out for the right to face Sergei Kharitonov and Antonio Silva in the semis, airs on Showtime. If rumors are to be believed, it could be one of the last few times such an epic event occurs under the Strikeforce banner. And if the rumors are pure hogwash, well, it’s one heck of card anyway. Preview time!
Alistair Overeem vs. Fabricio Werdum – There are two versions of Strikeforce champ Overeem. Version number one was a light-heavyweight striker felled by Chuck Liddell, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Werdum back when Pride FC was the shizzle. Version number two, however, could not be more different than the Dutchman’s earlier incarnation. After a steady diet of horse meat (note: ahem), Overeem is now a heavyweight superhero, capable of holding titles in both Strikeforce and DREAM and the kickboxing organization K-1. Yeah, yeah, Brazilian submission specialist Werdum has got enough jiu-jitsu in his veins to tap the likes of the untappable Fedor Emelianenko, and he handily defeated Overeem five years ago. But times (and “The Reem”) have changed. When the dust settles on Saturday night’s main event, one very big man is going to emerge from the cage wearing on his shoulders the pelt of an elite Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu stylist.
Josh Barnett vs. Brett Rogers – Love him or hate him (and it seems many hate him), Barnett is still one mean hombre with an arsenal deep and deadly. Rogers, on the other hand, has got coma-inducing fists and nothing else. It’s safe to assume the “Baby-Faced Assassin” is going to take him down and surgically remove one of his limbs.
KJ Noons vs. Jorge Masvidal – Tucked in among the giants are a pair of lightweights with a penchant for throwing leather. In Noons’ case, said leather is thrown about in more of a pugilistic fashion, while Masvidal leans towards the Thai-style of ass-kickery. Ultimately, that means we’re likely to see one of these dudes unconscious on the canvas before the night is through. Hey, that’s cool by me.
Valentijn Overeem vs. Chad Griggs – Valentijn, the older brother of Alistair, has proven himself to be much less of a world-beater than his sibling, but he’s still formidable on the feet (and, to a certain degree, on the ground as well). Also formidable is Griggs, who wields a dangerous set of hands and equally dangerous muttonchops in the cage. The edge in experience goes to the Dutchman, but this one is really a toss up. Whoever sports the lowest threshold for damage will lose.
Daniel Cormier vs. Jeff Monson – In a contest between an Olympic wrestler still pretty green in MMA (Cormier), and a muscle-bound grappling ham-and-egger (Monson), it’s safe to say there’s going to be a lot of inexorable hugging against the cage and guys stuck on their backs like overturned turtles. Hooray (note: ahem).