Strikeforce Grand Prix: Alistair Overeem vs. Fabricio Werdum


There’s a lot of coverage this week for Strikeforce’s Grand Prix second round matchups and who will move on to face Antonio Silva and Sergei Kharitonov in the “Final Four.”  Before the semifinals take place, we need to settle two colossal fights Saturday night in Dallas.  Here’s who should win Overeem/Werdum fight, and how.

Fabricio Werdum vs. Alistair Overeem

Fabricio Werdum has always been thought of as a tremendous fighter, but he blew up on the scene after submitting the seemingly unbeatable at the time, Fedor Emelianenko.  This is the second meeting between the two fighters and Werdum submitted Overeem the first time out, some five years ago in Japan.  Werdum brings a respectable 14-4 record into this fight.

Alistair Overeem is the top of the most arguments when fans talk about rankings in the heavyweight division.  Some feel he belongs atop the list, while others feel he’s yet to prove himself completely as a heavyweight and needs to solidify his resume before taking the top spot.  One thing however cannot be disputed; “The Reem” is as devastating a striker as there is in the division and holds a victory over K1 legend Badr Hari.


Fabricio Werdum is a submission grappler first and a boxer somewhere down the line.  He does have four stoppages via strikes to his credit, but most of those wins came via ground and pound.  In terms of boxing, Werdum has a ways to go.

Alistair Overeem has hugely heavy hands and tremendous footwork making him one of, if not the most dangerous mixed martial artists in terms of boxing.  He wades in and throws bombs, and when they land, fights end.  Alistair’s boxing for MMA is the tops in the sport.  He’s light years ahead of Werdum here.

Boxing advantage goes to Alistair Overeem.


Werdum has better knees and kicks than people give him credit for.  He utilized flying knees, high kicks, knees from the clinch and stiff low kicks early in his career and still has those tools in his arsenal.  He is however much more prone to grappling and the less time he spends standing against Overeem, the better he’ll fare.

People like to say certain MMA fighters have K1 level striking.  Alistair Overeem competes and wins in K1.  He has solid kicks, and devastating knees.  If Overeem catches a fighter in the clinch, he can end the fight with a single well placed knee.  Kicks and knees are his specialty and as you might expect, he’ll be looking to land some against Werdum.

Kicks/Knees advantage goes to Alistair Overeem.


Pretty interesting here, because Werdum will use clinch for takedowns and knees to body/legs while Overeem will try and finish the fight here.  Werdum utilizes the clinch well, but he isn’t explosive from the clinch.  That certainly doesn’t mean he’s not good from it.  Werdum is also more likely I think to work for a clinch near the fence and try and control the pace of the fight.  He has a solid clinch game.

Overeem is violent and his clinch matches.  He looks to knee the body and head from the clinch as well as land short elbows from the clinch.  He’s not likely to hold a fighter in the clinch long, or use it for the takedown.  He’s much more likely to go for the plum and attempt to knee the head and finish the fight.  Being in Overeem’s clinch is a scary proposition.

The clinch advantage goes to Alistair Overeem.


Fabricio Werdum will want to take Overeem down and work ground and pound and submissions.  He has very good takedowns and takedown defense.  Werdum has a variety of takedowns, from the clinch, trip, deep double and effective single leg.  As any top of the food chain grappler knows, the takedown is your bread and butter.

Alistair Overeem used to be a Light Heavyweight and actually began to utilize takedowns and submissions.  That said, he’s not as good as Werdum when it comes to putting the fight on the ground, and against Werdum he’d not look to do so.  He has adequate takedown defense, and will need it to keep the fight standing where he holds all the advantages.

Takedown advantage goes to Fabricio Werdum.


Werdum loves the submission game.  He’s a well-rounded fighter but against Overeem, he will want to hit the mat early and use ground and pound to open up Overeem’s guard and make his way into submission positions.  Werdum has a plethora of submissions at his disposal and he could catch Overeem if he slips up at all.

People sleep on Overeem’s submissions, but he has more victories via submission than by TKO.  He also won the gold medal in the Abu Dhabi European grappling championships.  He doesn’t live and die by the submission game, but he’s schooled in the ground game and is more than capable in that capacity.

Grappling/Submissions advantage goes to Fabricio Werdum


The biggest intangibles working for Werdum is he’s coming off of a massive win over Fedor and he holds a victory over Overeem.  He’s on top of the world right now, and he isn’t at all afraid of Overeem.  I think the combination of beating Fedor and holding a previous victory over Alistair Overeem will have Werdum brimming with confidence.

Overeem is a different man from the first meeting with Werdum in 2006.  He has cultivated the reputation of being a kickboxing crusher and he carries that into this fight.  If the fight stays standing, Overeem will catch Werdum and KO him.  He needs to utilize excellent takedown defense and avoid the trip from the clinch to be victorious.

Intangibles advantage goes to Fabricio Werdum.

Overall Advantage:  This is as easy as Grappler vs. Boxer.  If it stays standing beyond 120 seconds, Werdum will catch a beating, but if he’s able to secure a takedown he’ll likely finish the fight via submission.  The fight will start like all others, standing, advantage Alistair Overeem.

Outcome:  The bell rings, they touch gloves and then before you speak The Pledge of Allegiance the fight will be over, with Alistair Overeem celebrating a vicious first round KO.

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