STRIKEFORCE DOESN’T LIVE UP TO NAME!

June 19th, 2011 By Sammy Perez

Bethlehem, PA- While the name of the game is mixed martial arts, and when the name of your promotion is Strikeforce, you anticipate some action in the form of, well striking. Although strikes, (punches, kicks, knees etc.), were not null and void last night in Strikeforce’s Heavyweight Grand Prix, they didn’t come in abundance either; especially not to the satisfaction of the Dallas, Texas crowd, which I’ll address in a minute.

SEMI FINALS ARE NEXT & WILL BE BETTER!

Nonetheless, the second round of quarterfinal match-ups have finally taken place, albeit four months later, and as expected Alistair Overeem and Josh Barnett (pictured @ left) handled their business. However, it is the way they handled it that is being scrutinized, though I’m not exactly sure why? When you have two match-ups that feature a striker vs. grappler, the outcomes are to be expected.

STRIKEFORCE CHAMP NOW 10-0-1 IN LAST 11 SCRAPS

In the main event, Overeem (35-11, 14 KO’s 19 subs), the reigning Strikeforce heavyweight champion, tried to do his part and finish his opponent Fabricio Werdum (14-5-1, 4 KO’s 8 subs), but


it wasn’t enough to please the crowd. While he came away with a unanimous decision, I guess the expectations of a champion with such a high pedigree of kickboxing were just too much to overcome. Werdum, realizing he could not stand toe to toe with the champ, continuously tried in vain to lure the champion into a clinch and ground game. However, Overeem, already with a loss to Werdum five years earlier via submission, would have none of it.

BRAZILIAN LAID ON BACK MORE IN ONE NIGHT THAN HOOKER

The crowd was not pleased at all with Werdum’s constant flopping and attempts to lure Overeem to the ground, but what did they expect? Werdum was just playing to his strength, especially realizing early on he could not stand and trade with the bigger and stronger champion. Up next for Overeem, it doesn’t get any easier as he faces a “big” task in ‘Bigfoot’ Antonio Silva. Though he should be favored, Overeem needs to be a lot sharper in his overall attack if he is going to “beat the man who beat the man” as Silva did when he took out the tournament favorite in Fedor Emelianenko.

BARNETT STILL HAS SKILLS, BOTH FIGHTING & TALKING

In the co-main event, it was pretty much a case of not how, but when. In my preview, I stated if Barnett (30-5, 7 KO’s 18 subs) could avoid the mammoth punches coming from Brett Rogers (11-3, 9 KO’s 1 sub), he would inevitably get him down into his world and win via submission in the second round. I hate to say I told you so, but I did. After controlling Rogers for much of the first round once he got him to the ground, he did more of the same and eventually finished him with a tight arm-triangle choke in the second. Rogers did what he could, but his fate was sealed if he couldn’t land that big punch, which he didn’t.


CROWD WAS LOUD BUT ALL NEGATIVELY!

Once again, the Dallas crowd booed unmercifully while Barnett played to his strength, instead of appreciating a master of submission wrestling at work. The semi-final round is no cakewalk for Barnett as he takes on Russian KO artist Sergei Kharitonov. Kharitonov, who holds both a win and loss against champ Overeem, has a wealth of experience and is my dark horse pick to win this tournament. However, my favorite is Barnett, who I expect to defeat the Russian and whoever he faces in the final. In other words, the winner of this semifinal bracket is my pick to win the whole thing.

Two final comments regarding the tourney and the crowd; first, I hope Strikeforce learns from Bellator and doesn’t wait another four months for the next round, as this was first slated for April. If they had rode the momentum of the first round in February and got to this show earlier, I feel it would have been much better for the fighters who had to much time to sit and wait, thus creating some lackluster performances.

THE “SQUARE” FANS NEED TO KNOW MMA

Finally, until casual American fans realize these are no longer the days of no holds barred fighting and that it is now a technical sport called mixed martial arts, we will continue to have reactions such as what was experienced last night. Fans here in the states need to understand that unlike boxing, this fight game encompasses a lot of different facets besides punching. Therefore, instead of booing whenever a clinch occurs or a fight goes to the ground, I suggest fans educate themselves, so they can truly appreciate the artistry of a fighter’s whole game, instead of feeling cheated somehow.

GROUND FIGHTING OR “GROUND & POUND” IS TOUGH!

I think every fan should try at least once to get on the mat one day and roll around, whether it is wrestling, jiu-jitsu, judo etc., so you can truly feel and appreciate what it takes to “fight” on the ground. These fighters are some of the most skilled and best conditioned athletes in the world. For them to step into a cage and be booed is a total disrespect and disgrace in my eyes and should never happen. That is unless you are Kalib Starnes and refuse to engage for three rounds as he did against Nate Quarry at UFC 83; then boo to your hearts content.

“Slammin’ Sammy” Perez

COMMENTS

  1. I liked the show except for Overeem/Werdum and Barnett’s stupid pro wrestling monologue. Jorge Masvidal is one of my favorite fighters and the way he took apart KJ Noons was a masterpiece and IMO, the fight of the night.

    Ron on June 19th, 2011 at 7:53 PM
  2. The “squared” fans don’t need to know anything about wrestling, clinching, jiu-jitsu, or anything similar. Fact is, it’s BORING!!!!…PERIOD!. There’s a reason competitive wrestling is never televised…no-one cares for it.

    danny on June 20th, 2011 at 9:12 AM
  3. Free MMA this weekend…

    * Strikeforce Challengers 16 – Showtime – Friday
    * Bellator 46 – MTV2 – Saturday
    * UFC on Versus 4 – Sunday – The entire preliminary card will be streamed on Facebook, if you have Facebook and “like” this site:

    http://www.facebook.com/UFC?sk=app_4949752878

    Ron on June 22nd, 2011 at 6:35 PM

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