Posts Tagged ‘Alistair Overeem’

Strikeforce HWT Grand Prix moved to June 18

Alistair Overeem on the UFC, Cain, Fedor, Werdum and the Strikeforce GP

Alistair Overeem (Esther Lin/Strikeforce)

While Fedor Emelianenko was falling victim to the much larger Antonio Silva in the opening round of Strikeforce’s heavyweight Grand Prix last weekend, cageside spectator and Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem might have let his mind wander to a bout in which he might enjoy the same advantage.

“It would be great if Strikeforce can do a co-promotion with UFC,” Overeem told MMA DieHards. “(Then) I could fight someone like Cain Velasquez.”

Similar to the Fedor-Silva fight, Velasquez would be the much smaller man in a fight with Overeem.  But with politics and business rendering that scenario unlikely, Overeem must be content to remain the favorite to win the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix.

For now, Overeem is concentrating on winning the Grand Prix, not thinking about lack of opponents or where else he can fight, including the UFC.

“At the moment I would say no (to the UFC) because I’m very happy with Strikeforce, but if there is nobody that wants to fight me then I will take any offer serious,” Overeem explained.

While the largest roadblock to the Grand Prix title is obviously not Velasquez, it appears to be the dangerous Fabricio Werdum, his quarterfinal opponent.

Whether the “Demolition Man” is demolishing foes in Japan or in the United States, it is nearly always an exciting fight that usually ends with Overeem’s counterpart laying on the canvas trying to figure out what happened.

Overeem’s long list of knockouts and submission wins, plus the fact that he has not lost in over three years, has earned him recognition as one of the best heavyweights in the sport.  As champion of the promotion, his assessment of Fedor-Silva carries extra weight.

“Fedor fought like a lion,” Overeem said.  “He gave everything to get out, but Silva was just too strong.”

A vast majority of the MMA community was counting out Silva, yet Overeem viewed the match up as almost equal.

“I wasn’t very surprised,” said Overeem. “When the fight was announced I was thinking of a 60-40 (edge) in favor of Fedor, but after seeing how confident Silva was I changed it into 50-50.  Silva fought a perfect game plan and he knew what he had to do to beat Fedor.”

Even though Fedor himself mentioned thoughts of retirement after the loss, Overeem does not think this will be the end for the Russian.

“No, (Fedor’s) not done as a fighter, but these two losses will affect him for sure,” Overeem said.

Emelianenko is someone who Overeem had his eye on for a few years, but the fight never materialized and now Fedor has back-to-back losses.  The Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix had the potential to make this fight happen in the semifinals, which was enticing to the champion, but that is not where his focus lies.

“To be honest, Fedor’s not my priority right now,” Overeem admitted.  “My priority is winning the Strikeforce Grand Prix title and my first fight is going to be Werdum.  That fight is the only one on my mind.  If I win I will face Silva, (and) that would be the next challenge, so thinking of a Fedor fight right now is not very smart to do because there are amazing fights waiting for me in Strikeforce.”

Werdum was the first man to finish Emelianenko, and he also holds a submission win over the “Demolition Man.”  Those submission skills are something Overeem is very aware of going into this fight.

“We all know he’s a BJJ specialist,” Overeem said. “His ground game is one of the best, if not the best, in the world, so I have to be cautious for that.”

Although Overeem does not hold a belt in jiu-jitsu, he is still well-versed on the ground and says he is prepared for Werdum.

“My ground game has always been solid,” Overeem stated. “I don’t want to go as far as saying my ground game is better than his, but this is MMA.  There are more things you have to keep in mind, like for example BJJ.  The improvement I’m going through is an overall improvement so my ground game is better now compared to my first fight with Werdum.”

Constant improvement is something Overeem displays every time he competes, whether he is winning K-1 tournaments or challenging himself in Strikeforce. After winning the K-1 tournament in December, Overeem was hoping for a little vacation time, but that wish went relatively unfulfilled.

“I wanted some holiday time after my four fights in December,” Overeem said. “I just came back from doing a PR tour in the States promoting Strikeforce Grand Prix tournament and myself, (but) I’m going to start training again next week.

“I will train like I always do, but I will organize a training camp.  I mostly have a special training camp in preparation of my fight.  I’m thinking of going to Thailand to train there.”

While the K-1 champion awaits his initial bout in the Strikeforce Grand Prix, a teammate of his from Golden Glory has already competed and won his first bout in the tournament.  Sergei Kharitonov dismantled Andrei Arlovski in the first round of their quarterfinal match, and Overeem is exceptionally proud of his friend.

“Kharitonov was very motivated and it showed in the fight,” said Overeem. “He was waiting for the moment to capitalize.  His knockout was just brutal; what a great finish for Kharitonov.”

Fedor may be eliminated from the tournament, but Overeem admits that there is tough completion remaining.

“I think that Kharitonov and Antonio Silva showed us that they are the toughest fighters in the tournament,” Overeem said.

It was not too long ago when Overeem left Strikeforce to compete in Japan because of the lack of worthy opponents in the Strikeforce heavyweight division.  Now Strikeforce has a solid stable of heavyweights and has thrown the majority of them in this tournament, which could result once again in a lack of matchups should Overeem win the tournament.  However, the heavyweight champion does not anticipate that happening.

“It’s always difficult to find suitable opponents,” Overeem admitted. “But Strikeforce (has) a big pool of heavyweight fighters, so there will be no problem to find opponents.  Although Fedor is out of the tournament, a superfight with him would be something that fans would like to see.”

There are a few opponents that stand before Overeem in Strikeforce, and after that we may or may not see him in the UFC.

But you never know.  After all, a fight between Overeem and the UFC champ sounds exciting to just about everyone, especially the “Reem.”

Strikeforce does its thing in New York City

High-fivin' with the 'Reem (Esthler Lin/Strikeforce)

Before Strikeforce hits New Jersey this weekend, it hit New York on Tuesday.

The promotion is taking a leap out of its Northern California roots in bringing the first portion of the quarterfinals of the heavyweight grand prix to the New York City metro area, and kicked it off Tuesday with an event at the Roseland Ballroom, a hall normally reserved for hip concerts.

In attendance were each of the eight competitors of the tournament, four of whom will meet Saturday at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J.  Fedor Emelianenko takes on Antonio “Big Foot” Silva, and former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski meets Sergei Kharitonov.

The other quarterfinal contestants reportedly will meet April 9, as Brett Rogers takes on Josh Barnett, and heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem meets the man who has beaten him and Emelianenko, Fabricio Werdum.

The estimated attendance for the Strikeforce Grand Prix Fan Experience was 1,500.  Downtown earlier in the day, a rally took place to bring awareness to the fact that MMA is not sanctioned in New York.

Strikeforce Targets April 9 For Heavyweight Grand Prix, Japan In The Mix

Strikeforce HWT tournament guidelines clarified; Overeem’s title not at stake

Combat Sports Report: NCAA Champion’s Return, Kickboxing Results and BJJ Preview

Every sport has a breeding ground for its future stars. In the case of mixed martial arts, the worlds of grappling, kickboxing and amateur wrestling are most likely to spawn the next Demian Maia, Mirko CroCop or Brock Lesnar. Collectively, these sports fall under the umbrella of “combat sports.” Every Wednesday, MMA DieHards reports on the biggest happenings in each of these realms of combat.

Amateur Wrestling
by Staff, The Open Mat

2009 NCAA Champion Darrion Caldwell (photo courtesy of STL Today)

After a 16-month lay off, 2009 NCAA Champion Darrion Caldwell has leaped back into the mix. Darrion made his season debut against Bloomsburg on Tuesday, earning a fall over Josh Roosa. It seems that rust isn’t an issue as he rattled off five pins in his first six matches of 2011. (in-depth coverage)

The Cliff Keen National duals certainly wasn’t business as usual, at least on the bottom half of the bracket. First, American University knocked off Oregon State 21-19 on the effort of a Ryan Flores pin of Clayton Jack at heavyweight. Then it was Virginia Tech’s turn to play Rocky when they surprised second seed Oklahoma State 18-16. Everything seemed to be going the Hokies way as they picked up clutch wins by Jarrod Garrett and Pete Yates and a huge win at heavyweight by Dave Marone to seal the deal. (in-depth coverage)

Cornell and Penn State tied at the Southern Scuffle. Both teams won championships this weekend – Cornell at National Duals and PSU at the Virginia Duals. Imagine the juice a National Dual Tournament would have received with these two facing off in a final. There is something to be said for head to head duals versus winning a national title in an individual format. (in-depth coverage)

Top 10 Teams in DI Wrestling

1. Cornell
2. Penn State
3. Wisconsin
4. Minnesota
5. Missouri
6. Iowa
7. Oklahoma State
8. Illinois
9. Virginia Tech
10. Rutgers

A complete listing of individual and team rankings can be found on The Open Mat website.

Kickboxing & Muay Thai
by Rob Tatum

As expected, news in the kickboxing world is starting to pick up as the New Year moves forward. After a brief down period following the K-1 World Grand Prix, events from all corners of the globe are taking place or being announced.

Before reviewing the current happenings, let’s take a look at some a few important fights that took place in Japan over the final days of the year (and were left out last week!).

Sengoku’s Soul of Fight event took place on Dec. 30, and while the majority of the event was MMA bouts, there were a number of kickboxing contests as well. Most notably, recent S-Cup winner Buakaw Por. Pramuk defeated Hiroki Nakajima.

In the final news of 2010, K-1 parent company, FEG, held its annual Dynamite!! event featuring both MMA and kickboxing. Tetsuya Yamato and Akiyo “Wicky” Nishiura fought to a majority draw (30-30, 30-29 Yamato, 30-30) and Dream light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi bested K-1 World Grand Prix Final 8 participant Kyotaro. In a mixed rules bout, Dream lightweight champion Shinya Aoki made a mockery of the rules in the K-1 round, frequently clinching and launching drop kicks off the ropes. In the MMA round, K-1 veteran Yuichiro Nagashima needed only four seconds to knock out Aoki with a knee as he shot for takedown. In other action, K-1 heavyweight king Alistair Overeem KO’d UFC veteran Todd Duffee and K-1 legend Jerome Le Banner lost a decision to judoka Satoshi Ishii, both in MMA contests.

Moving on to 2011, it has been announced that the aforementioned Buakaw Por. Pramuk will be again competing on Feb. 12, as he faces Youssef Boughanem at La Nuit des Titans VI. The 2011 Shootboxing schedule has been finalized, with five events announced for Korakuen Hall in Tokyo. Dates include Feb. 19, April 23, June 5, Sept. 10 and Nov. 11.

A key fight in the Muay Thai world has been revealed for April 9, as Saenchai Sor. Kingstar and Liam Harrison will meet for the second time for UK promotion Fight Sport Industries. As mentioned last week, Saenchai is the WMC World Muay Thai champion.

Dutch promotion It’s Showtime has announced that it has stripped 95 kg (209 lb) champion Tyrone Spong of his title. Spong has not defended the belt for over two years and has made a permanent move to heavyweight, recently competing in the K-1 World Grand Prix Final 8, losing to eventual champion Alistair Overeem.

On Jan. 6 from Bangkok, Rajadamnern stadium 130-pound title holder Jomthong Chuwattana claimed a decision over Jaroenchai Audonmuang. The bout was a repeat of the pair’s 2007 battle. Also in action, Vigo Sor. Phenprapa defeated Kayasit Chuwatana by third round TKO, Dendanai P.K. Stereo took a decision victory over Sakoontong Tor. Ponchai, and Aranchai Kiatpataraphan stopped Kompayak Chuwatan by fourth round TKO.

Steve Wakeling (center)

Jan. 8 saw The Champion’s Club host its sixth event from Pattaya, Thailand. In the night’s main event, England’s Steve Wakeling knocked out champ Jaochalam Chatkranokgym to become the new WBC Muay Thai super middleweight champion.

Also on Jan. 8, K-1 MAX held its first event of the year with a 70kg (154 lb), eight-man tournament. The opening round saw Nick Beljaards knock out favored Rachid Belaini in the second round, Rafi Zouheir claimed a decision over Tuncay Aydin, Warren Stevelmans outlasted Jonay Risco, and Rafa del Toro defeated Alejandro Asumu Osa, also by decision. In the semi-finals, Stevelmans took a decision over del Toro and Zouheir needed an extension round to get past Beljaards. The final saw Zouheir win the tournament with a decision victory over Stevelmans. In non-tournament bouts, Orinta var dar Zee defeated Mar Rodriguez, Zebene Diaz defeated Simon Santana, and Fran Palenzuela defeated Dani Montesdeoca, all by decision.

Finally, on Jan. 9, Japanese promotion Krush held the second round of its Kings Tournament. In a closely contested bout, Yoshihiro Sato took a split decision over Shemsi Beqiri. Koya Urabe survived Sung Hyun Lee after an extension round in their 63 kg (139 lb) tournament bout. Also in tournament action, Kizaemon Saiga claimed a decision over Naoki Terazaki, Takuya Shirahama needed an extension round to defeat Yuki Yamamoto, and Ryuki Kajiwara defeated TaCa by unanimous decision. The tournament concludes on March 19. The highlight of the event was when Yuya Yamamoto scored a big knock out over Masahiro Watanbe in the second round.

Grappling & Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
by Gianni Grippo, four-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion

Just as we settle into the New Year, great competitions are now in sight and even in the cold winter days and nights, the training mats are on fire with competitors preparing themselves for the battles that lie ahead in 2011.

What has become a world-wide competition, The Abu Dhabi World Pro Trials, will be making its next stop in Jersey City, N.J. at the Jersey City Armory to see who will be making the trip to Abu Dhabi for the competition’s main event in April. Set to take place on Feb. 5, the World Pro competition is now on the East Coast of the United States after already having trials in South Korea, Brazil, New Zealand and Sweden. Each division winner at the brown/black belt categories and each lower belt absolute winners (two separate absolute winners at each belt) will be rewarded with an all-expenses paid trip to compete in Abu Dhabi. The trip will include site visits, free hotel accommodations and so on. After the WPBJJ’s trip in the U.S., it will be heading to Lisbon, Portugal, for its next trial to see who else will be in the main Abu Dhabi event. In March, the event will be making a trip back to the United States for trials to take place in Las Vegas and West Palm Beach, Fla.

Another competition to kick off the New Year is the Grapplers Quest’s Florida State Jiu-Jitsu Championships, set to run on Feb. 5 in Coral Springs, Fla. There is expected to be big super-fight matchups and a $1000 prize to all pro division winners.

On the IBJJF’s calendar, shortly after the European Open, set to take place in Lisbon, Portugal, on Jan. 27-30, their next tournament will be the second installment of the Houston International Open in Houston, Texas on Feb. 12 and 13. In the inaugural event last year, Bruno Bastos was crowned absolute champion, so expect last year’s champion and many more to be entering again this year.

Also on the IBJJF calendar is the first big championship on U.S. soil: Pan 2011. In its second year in Irvine, Calif., expect this competition to be replete with the best black belts in the world, including Bernardo Faria, Kayron Gracie, Bruno Malfacine, Caio Terra, Michael Langhi and many more. The Pan is always one of the biggest tournaments the world can produce and you can count on it being even bigger than it was last year.

So, for the competitors, the map to a successful year is being laid out and all there is to do is train hard to be at the top for each one of these prestigious competitions!

Strikeforce breaks ground with heavyweight tourney, East Coast event

Fedor is coming to New Jersey (Esther Lin/Strikeforce)

Strikeforce is coming to the East.

Perhaps lost in the shuffle of Strikeforce’s talent-laden heavyweight tournament announcement is the fact that the promotion is busting out of its west-of-the-Mississippi routine and will conduct the opener of the contest at the Meadowlands, a mere seven miles from New York City.

Strikeforce and M-1 Global signed a multi-year agreement to co-promote events with television partner Showtime, with Fedor Emelianenko headlining.  Emelianenko will top the card at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J., on Sat., Feb. 12, against Antonio Silva (15-2), with Showtime taking the short trip from its Manhattan corporate headquarters to televise the opening-round tournament fights.

There are eight fighters signed to compete in the main draw, including champion Alistair Overeem (34-11, 1 NC) and the man who finally beat Emelianenko, Fabricio Werdum (14-4-1).  Those two will meet in what appears at first glance to be a curious quarterfinal matchup at a date and venue to be determined.  But Overeem’s belt will be on the line in each of his fights.  On that card will also be a match between Josh Barnett (29-5) and Brett Rogers (11-2).

Back in New Jersey, a pair of Russians will compete before Emelianenko (31-2, 1 NC), as ex-UFC heavyweight champ Andrei Arlovski (15-8) faces Sergei Kharitonov.  Kharitonov (16-4) is the last person to beat Overeem.

In one fell swoop, Strikeforce is making a leap in trying to cut into the UFC’s indomitable market share.  Based in Northern California, Strikeforce has stuck nearby it roots, putting on the majority of its biggest events in San Jose.  The promotion has taken to St. Louis for shows in recent months, and has been to Tennessee, Oklahoma and Louisiana for events.  But going to the New York area is something wholly different, and bringing in Emelianenko as the centerpiece of the long-awaited heavyweight tournament is a plan that might have some legs.

Just a few weeks later, the UFC will be back in New Jersey, at the Prudential Center in Newark, for the second straight year.  The longer New York remains a holdout on legalizing the sport, the more up-for-grabs will be the North Jersey top-shelf events.

The deal with Emelianenko and M-1 Global assures Strikeforce of holding the interest of the MMA world for the events in which he will compete.  A couple of legitimate wins and a finals match against Overeem or Werdum would be an event perhaps worthy of the promotion’s return to network television on CBS, which owns Showtime.

Until the rise — and before the fall — of Brock Lesnar, Strikeforce’s heavyweight roster had a clear edge on that of the UFC.  But with Lesnar rocketing to the championship and pay-per-view stardom in MMA (and outside of the WWE), the UFC’s soap opera with the big boys got a lot more interesting overnight.  Lesnar’s near-defeat to Shane Carwin was a spectacle, and his fall at the hands of Cain Velasquez further stirred interest.

But with the injured Velasquez now sidelined until the Fall 2011, the division once again is less intriguing, and Strikeforce is striking while the iron is hot.

Whether it’s good timing or good luck is another matter.

“We are thrilled to have come to a long-term agreement with Fedor and M-1 Global,” Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker said in a release. “To have the greatest MMA fighter of all-time put his legacy on the line in a single-elimination tournament will truly captivate MMA fans worldwide. Strikeforce is home to the best heavyweight division in the world; the athlete who runs the gauntlet in a tournament such as this would have to be considered the best heavyweight fighter in the world.”

While Velasquez, UFC boss Dana White and many others would have something to say about that, it would, at minimum, secure doubt that the UFC owned the best in the world at that division.  Whomever wins this tournament will be worthy of No. 1 consideration.

“I have been training very hard since my last fight and can’t wait to get back in the cage,” Emelianenko said.  “Strikeforce has assembled a roster filled with the best heavyweights in the world and, together with M-1 Global, we have the opportunity to fight the best in a great tournament format.”

The tournament is single elimination.  There will be other bouts run concurrently to create options for matchups in case injuries prevent winners from moving on.

Overeem vs. Werdum Among Strikeforce Heavyweight Tournament Pairings

The Gauge: December 2010

Anthony Pettis (photo courtesy of MMA Junkie)

December could not have provided a better finish to the year that was in mixed martial arts.

We bid farewell to World Extreme Cagefighting, added the featherweight and bantamweight divisions to the UFC, crowned another Ultimate Fighter, witnessed a top mixed martial artist win a kickboxing championship and welcomed the world’s top flyweight into the United States.

That’s a lot of action in one month, but how does it all shake out in The Gauge rankings? Let’s find out:

1. Anthony Pettis – It has already been dubbed “The Kick Heard ‘Round the World.” While it might not have resonated as loudly with ESPN, who only ranked it second to a NBA slam dunk in its list of top plays of the day, the near-knockout blow landed by Pettis on defending lightweight champion Benson Henderson at WEC 53 sure caught the attention of the MMA community. “Showtime” was already in the midst of an epic fight, but his courage in taking such a risk and connecting elevated the bout to legendary status. Can he continue to pull off moves that normally only work in movies or video games when he heads to the UFC for a title showdown against the winner of UFC 125′s lightweight title tilt between Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard? Who knows? But regardless of what Pettis does in the Octagon, he has permanently embedded his name into the minds of MMA fans with the “Showtime Kick.”

2. Georges St-Pierre – GSP came out of The Ultimate Fighter 12 as the more successful of the season’s coaches and did what has come to be expected of him when he stepped into the cage at UFC 124 against nemesis Josh Koscheck. The win was another case of the welterweight champion exploiting his foe’s weaknesses while working towards a dominant victory. UFC president Dana White has conceded that the Canadian has cleaned out the 170-pound division and might be headed for a super fight with middleweight king Anderson Silva.

3. Alistair Overeem – The Strikeforce heavyweight champion hasn’t had many opportunities to prove himself in mixed martial arts competition lately, but he added to his reputation as one of the elite big men by conquering three opponents in one night in the realm of kickboxing earlier this month. The three wins, including two stoppages, earned Overeem the K-1 World Grand Prix 2010 championship. Overeem didn’t stop there, however. He added another piece of hardware to his trophy case on New Year’s Eve in Japan, as he demolished UFC veteran Todd Duffee in just 19 seconds at Dynamite!! 2010 to claim the vacant Dream heavyweight title.

4. Jonathan Brookins – Brookins became the latest fighter to earn an Ultimate Fighter championship. Despite coming into the TUF house with an impressive resume and experience in both the WEC and Bellator, Brookins was not considered as much of a favorite on the show compared with eventual finals opponent Michael Johnson. In the end, it was Brookins who proved to be the superior fighter by taking a unanimous decision over Johnson at the TUF 12 Finale. How he fares in the UFC’s crowded lightweight division remains to be seen, but he’ll always carry the tag of “Ultimate Fighter.”

5. Dominick Cruz – Cruz’s bantamweight title defense at WEC 53 didn’t thrill fans in the same way as the lightweight war between Anthony Pettis and Ben Henderson later in the evening, but it demonstrated the difficulties and frustrations opponent’s will face in overcoming his fighting style. Scott Jorgensen couldn’t do anything to outpoint the 135-pound champ. Meanwhile, recent bantamweight convert Urijah Faber received a healthy amount of attention during the event. Considering Faber is responsible for the lone blemish on Cruz’s record, it appears that Zuffa has a fight with built-in hype for its first UFC bantamweight championship fight.

6. Paul Daley – “Semtex” punched his way right out of the UFC in May with a post-fight sucker punch of opponent Josh Koscheck. Now, he has punched his way into title contention in Strikeforce after rendering Scott Smith unconscious at the promotion’s “Henderson vs. Babalu 2” card. Rather than calling out the organization’s welterweight champion Nick Diaz, Daley took aim at K.J. Noons.

7. Dan Henderson – Following his loss to Jake Shields, Henderson’s stock went down. There was a lot of doubt surrounding his abilities, but the former UFC and Pride star responded by knocking out Renato “Babalu” Sobral in the first round of their headlining bout at Strikeforce’s Dec. 4 event.

8. Jussier da Silva – While UFC veteran James Irvin headlined Tachi Palace Fights 7, it was really da Silva’s U.S. debut standing as the show’s real drawing card for hardcore fans willing to sit in front of their computer monitor for a free night of fights. The world’s top flyweight didn’t disappoint, displaying his skills on the way to a unanimous decision victory over WEC veteran Danny Martinez. Next up for “Formiga” is another WEC vet in Ian McCall. And should he make it past McCall, the Shooto South American 123-pound champ will most likely be on course to fight Tachi’s flyweight king, Ulysses Gomez.

9. Hatsu Hioki – Hioki picked up the most significant victory of his career as the year came to a close. At Sengoku’s year-end “Soul of Fight” event, Hioki captured the promotion’s featherweight crown with a unanimous decision over champion Marlon Sandro.

10. Stephan Bonnar – Bonnar continues to rebuild after a low point in his career that saw him lose three consecutive bouts, including dropping a unanimous decision to Mark Coleman at UFC 100. In December, he did what many thought unlikely just six months ago: headline a UFC event. Bonnar capitalized on the opportunity by earning a unanimous decision over Igor Pokrajac.

Dream Dynamite!! 2010 Results

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