“Piles of bodies, piles of gold.”
Barnett entered the arena first, coming into the blue corner both stoic and emotionless and sporting a new beard in his return to the United States. It had been just over two years since his third-positive test for steroids, and since then he had gone on to win other fights across the world against Mighty Mo and Geronimo dos Santos.
It didn’t take 30 seconds before Gus Johnson had to bring up Brett Rogers tire-changing past, and it took a bit longer for the commentators to discuss his horrible losses to Fedor and Overeem – his last two fights.
Would cage rust and the pressure of a return to North American MMA prevent a win for Barnett? And would Rogers overhyped right hand finish the “Baby Faced Assassin,” pushing Brett further into the tournament?
A definitive “no” would be the proper answer to both those questions. It didn’t take long after the bell for Barnett to push forward and look to take “Grim” out of his comfort zone. Rogers would land a leg kick on Josh as he ran in and pushed Rogers against the cage. Barnett would ultimately lift Brett over his head and slam him to the canvas, with “the former Sam’s Club tire changer” gripping the top of the cage to prevent the takedown.
Once it got to the ground it was all Josh’s fight. After securing the takedown Barnett looked to secure a wrist from side control, but ultimately gave it up to improve his position. Rogers attempted to get back to his feet but Josh used the cage extremely well for positional dominance, as he kept pressure on Rogers the entire time grabbing limbs and smothering him through different positions. He would secure the mount more than once as well as the round while he came down with punches to finish the first.
It’s also interesting to point out that many people were citing Barnett’s lack of cage experience in recent years as being a possible down fall in this fight. That was not the case because as I pointed out earlier, he used it just as good as anyone to ever step foot inside one.
Round two didn’t see much of a change aside from Josh landing an extremely heavy left hand that covered Rogers up and had him grabbing onto the former UFC Heavyweight Champion. Immediately Barnett flips him over and lands in mount. He lands elbow to the shoulder of Brett, and locks up the arm triangle for the win. Rogers would tap before Barnett even moved over to the side.
Embracing his pro-wrestling roots, he would grab the mic from Gus Johnson and cut a promo that would have made the biggest 90′s WWF fan smirk.
In professional sports at this level, people don’t forgive and they certainly don’t but forget. But tonight along with a new look, this was a new beginning for the controversial former champion. He advances onward through the tournament and faces Sergei Kharitonov next. Barnett, as well as the remaining final three, have a serious chance of winning this tournament.
“Styles make fights.”
At least thats what they say. Alistair Overeem, a renowned striker and world champion in both MMA and K-1, took on former UFC fighter Fabricio Werdum (and the only man to submit Fedor) in a rematch from a 2006 PRIDE FC meeting that saw Werdum submit “The Demolotion Man” in the second round. Unfortunately this fight would never live up to its full potential.
Almost instantly Werdum chose to initiate a game plan that left critics, fans, and the commentators scratching their heads. It was almost reminiscent of Shinya Aoki’s mixed K-1/MMA bout, and Demian Maia’s performance early on in his fight against Anderson Silva.
And that basically sums up the fight. Fabricio would initiate with strikes and fall into an awkward open guard all while attempting to lure Overeem into a ground battle. While he landed more punches through out, Alistair would respond with the more damaging and powerful shots, dropping Werdum a number of times. Like we pointed out, he was met with a few of Overeem’s devastating knees on his way inside. Early on it was almost like a muscling contest as we saw Werdum pull guard multiple times after getting slammed to the ground by the bigger fighter. Overeem looked somewhat embarrassed at his opponents choice to taunt him from his back and refusal to keep the fight interesting.
The bout never seemed to take off though. After the absurd first round, it had appeared that Fabricio had completely gassed himself out and as the fight went further, Alistair would follow the same path. It’s also worth noting that man of the bouts stale moments should have absolutely been separated by the referee, who seemed more than content with letting the bout remain eventless. You never know for sure in MMA, but one of those stand ups could have initiated more action and led to a finish between the two men.
Blame coud be placed on either man for the disappointing headliner, but a case could be made for Overeem in the lackluster fight. The same can’t be said for Werdum however. Although he out struck the K-1 world champ in numbers, he didn’t land anything effective or tide changing. You could tell that while he’s still a top heavyweight, Fabricio is still a one trick pony who has tried to improve his stand up. His wrestling looked absolutely awful though, and Overeem was able to both defend nicely as well as take the Jiu-Jitsu specialist down a few times.
Following the fight and unanimous decision nod to Alistair, fans and fighters took to social networking to express their disdain for a fight that was supposed to deliver a quick finish. Many placed the blame on both guys and others continued to trash talk Alistair along with his place in the heavyweight division.
Every martial artist has bad fights, what can you do. People will defend Jon Fitch to no end citing, “its the win that counts.” Well doesn’t it? Overeem went out there with the intention of knocking out the man across from him. That didn’t work out and instead he had to adapt to a crazy game plan from Werdum, who was also looking for his own victory.
There absolutely is a place for Overeem and Werdum in the top 10 rankings. If styles make fights, then matches against Junior dos Santos should absolutely favor the Dutch champion as JdS would also come to make a statement in what should be a stand up warm. And he’s winning.
If Jon Fitch can take divisional dominance with victories(draws) over other fighters who put their heart and soul into every fight, win or loss, then Overeem certainly can with his knack of finishing guys in devastating fashion. His hands are second to none, and he packs great defensive wrestling as well as the strength to keep any fight in his favor.
Overeem moves on to face Antonio “Big Foot” Silva in the semi-finals. Fabricio may be waiting on the sidelines while Strikeforce struggles to find another heavyweight on his level. Rogers, Mike Kyle are probably some of the more well known guys that they can book for him. Me? I say a rematch with Andrei Arlovski should be in place as an opening fight for one of the next Grand Prix cards.
“Styles make fights.” We’ve heard it before, time and time again. The rematch between these two superstars is a perfect example of that phrase and this sport’s unpredictability.no difference. Not every fight is going to end in a knockout or stoppage, and many more will go to an exciting decision. This simply was not one of them and as a long time fan, we’ve seen much much worse.