Alistair Overeem captured the Strikeforce Heavyweight Title two and one-half years ago when he pummeled Paul Buentello’s body with knees, causing the Headhunter to submit in the second round. Overeem’s failure to defend the belt while fighting thirteen international MMA and K-1 fights in that time frame had many screaming for him to either fight or be stripped of the belt. No one was screaming louder than his opponent, Brett Rogers.
Overeem and Rogers came into the fight with 42 combined wins, a whopping 34 of them coming in the first round, making the safest bet on the card that the title would be decided in the first five minutes. If you cashed that ticket you can thank the “Demolition Man” for finally taking his act stateside and showing domestic MMA fans where he got his nickname. After a brief feeling out period that saw Overeem pepper Rogers with a handful of leg kicks, the 253-pound Dutchman threw the 264-pound Rogers to the ground with shocking ease. Alistair controlled Brett on the ground for the next 2 ½ minutes, slamming him with knees and elbows to the body. There’s an old saying that goes something like “hurt the body and the head will come” and this fight could serve as a great example of the application of that maxim on the ground. In the final 30 seconds of the fight, the champ began to tee off on Rogers head and face as the challenger put up no defense, leading referee “Big” John McCarthy to put him out of his misery. In the final tally, Overeem outstruck Rogers by an incredible count of 54-1.
With the win, 32 of Overeem’s 33 victories have come by stoppage, 27 of them in the first round. The heavily muscled, English-speaking champion gives Strikeforce one of the more marketable heavyweights in the game to work with and a superfight in the wings if Fedor beats huge underdog Werdum next month. Alistair clearly wants the fight but it remains to be seen whether M-1 will allow its meal ticket to face the man who just demolished the fighter who broke Fedor’s nose. If not, the growing criticism of the Russian phenom will become deafening.
• At Least He Didn’t Get Knocked Out When we last saw former UFC Heavyweight Champion Andrei Arlovski he was trying to regain consciousness after Brett Rogers put him to sleep. Arlovski came into the fight in the middle of pursuing a boxing fantasy, training with Freddie Roach and underestimating his opponent. After that fight, Andre re-committed himself to MMA, spent some time training at AKA and Jackson’s and saw a sports psychologist. Apparently Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva just didn’t care about any of that as he calmly and effectively counterpunched and outstruck Arlovski for three rounds en route to a unanimous decision win. Silva, a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt out of American Top Team, showed vastly improved standup as he had Arlovski timed perfectly for most of the night. He successfully mixed in two takedowns in the third round to seal the deal and elevate himself into the upper tier of Strikeforce’s heavyweight division. In sharp contrast, Arlovski left the cage in desperate need of a win for any major MMA promotion to consider him relevant. While he did show a solid chin that was noticeably absent against Rogers and Fedor, the Belarusian has now lost three in a row for the first time in his MMA career. It’s never a good sign when the announcers make a big deal out of your ability to not get knocked out in a loss.
• No Smokin’ Joey Villasenor found out first hand why Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza has a well-deserved reputation as one of the top grapplers in MMA as the talented Brazilian took “Smokin’ Joe” down over and over for three rounds and dished out an unhealthy dose of punishing strikes in the first round. On the upside, Jacare showed nice improvements in his standup game. On the downside, the talented Brazilian’s gas tank steadily drained as the fight wore on. Villasenor suffers his first loss in his last five fights. Jacare established himself as the number one contender to a belt that will have no holder if Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Jake Shields takes off for the UFC.
• Feijao a Contender? Rafael Cavalcante bumped his Strikeforce record to 2-1 with a win over former super-heavy turned light-heavy Antwain Britt. “Feijao” scored his eighth TKO in nine wins when he dropped Britt and pounced on him for the finish at 3:45 of the first. The win probably gets the Brazilian a shot at King Mo’s title due to the dearth of talent in the promotion’s thin Light Heavyweight division.
• Gracie Lives Up to Name Roger Gracie walked into the cage on the heels of two straight Gracie losses in major MMA action, but managed to rep the first family of BJJ in style with a second round rear naked choke in his Strikeforce debut. Randleman fought a game first round but went to sleep late in the second. Gracie moves to 3-0 in his MMA career, all by…you guessed it…submission. Here’s hoping we’ll see the undefeated Gracie a little more often as those three fights have taken place over a 3½ year period.