By: William Holmes
Strikeforce brings the second half of the quarterfinals in their Heavyweight Grand Prix from Dallas, Texas. It features a talent packed undercard as well as a very interesting main event. The winner of tonight’s Overeem vs. Werdum matchup will likely become the favorite to win the Grand Prix tournament.
Valentijn Overeem (29-25) vs. Chad Griggs (10-1); Heavyweight
Long time veteran, and brother of main even fighter Alistair Overeem, Valentijn Overeem takes on surging heavyweight Chad Griggs. Overeem has an obvious height and reach advantage as both fighters walk out to the center of the cage. Overeem lands first with a hard inside kick followed by a high kick attempt. Griggs traps Overreem against the cage in a clinch. Griggs performs a beautiful lateral drop onto Overeem and falls into half guard. Griggs landing some short shots on Overeem from the top position. Griggs starting to land some harder shots and Overeem is turning his back to Griggs. Overeem taps to the strikes from Griggs, and Overeem was not defending himself at all. Chad Griggs wins by TKO in the first round.
Daniel Cormier (7-0) vs. Jeff Monson (42-11); Heavyweight
Two time Olympian Daniel Cormier takes on long time veteran Jeff Monson in the second fight of the Strikeforce main card. The winner of this fight will likely be the first alternate if a fighter gets injured in the Grand Prix and is unable to continue. Jeff Monson looks in very good shape. Cormier starts off landing a nice jab and high kick. Follows with a nice check kick to Monson’s leg. In the first minute it is apparent that Cormier wants to keep the fight standing, and looks more comfortable on his feet than Monson. Cormier lands a nice three punch combination on Monson against the cage. Monson has a cut on the top of his head. Fighters pressed against the cage in a clinch. Cormier is throwing high kicks with surprising ease, and has thrown some decent combinations. Nice body head combination by Cormier. A hard right hand gets through by Cormier. Monson is getting tagged repeatedly this round. Cormier is getting the better of every exchange so far. Very strong round for Cormier, 10-9.
Second round starts with Cormier throwing a nice two kick combination, followed up with a three punch combination. Monson falls to the ground and Cormier wisely waits for him to get back up. Monson finally lands a decent jab and cross. Fighters now pressed against the cage, and as they break from the release Monson lands a nice right hand. Cormier lands a hard cross and follows up with an uppercut. Cormier again lands a nice multi punch combination. Cormier is the first fighter to land when both fighters throw. Fighters pressed against the cage, and Cormier lands four punches to the body as they break. Cormier lands a hard lead right hand, and presses Monson back against the cage again. Cormier lands some knees to the legs of Monson. Another 10-9 round for Cormier.
Cormier starts off the third round with two impressive high kick attempts followed by a low kick to Monson’s legs. Cormier lands a hard looping left hand as Monson comes in. Cormier lands another right hook. Cormier is showing off an impressive striking ability, and lands a superman punch that hurts Monson. Monson goes to the ground and of course Cormier wants him to get back to his feet. Fighters are pressed against the cage and Monson is eating some short shots by Cormier. Cormier lands a few punches that causes Monson to drop to his feet and he shoots for a weak takedown that is easily stuffed. Both fighters are pressed against the cage again, and Cormier lands a hard knee to the body of Monson, and executes a beautiful trip on Monson. Cormier lands a hard right high kick to the chin of Monson that he eats. Monson has shown that he has a good chin in this fight, but Cormier has shown other heavyweights that he is for real. Another 10-9 round for Cormier.
Cormier wins by decision as all judges score it 30-27.
KJ Noons (10-3) vs. Jorge Masvidal (21-6); Lightweight
Former Elite XC lightweight champion KJ Noons takes on Jorge Masvidal in tonight’s only non-heavyweight affair on the televised card. Jorge Masvidal has a three inch reach advantage on KJ Noons. KJ noons comes right at Masvidal throwing combinations. Lands a decent body shot, andMasvidal follws with an overhand right and jumping knee. Masvidal lands a nice jab to the body. Masvidal lands another hard knee to Noons. Another nice jumping knee lands by Masvida and he shoots in for a takedown completing it. Noons has a kimura attempt locked in on Masvidal, but Masvidal is in a very advantageous position on the ground. If Masvidal can slide his hips up he’ll be in full mount position. Masvidal escapes the kimra attempt but Noons is able to get back to his feet. Masvidal with a nice low kick jab combination. Masvidal lands an overhand right and jab and Noons is now bleeding profusely on his forehead. Masvidal is surprisingly beating Noons on his feet. Masvidal lands a few nice jabs. Masvidal lands a very hard leg kick to NOons head that knocks KJ Noons. Twenty seconds left and Masvidal follows with some ground and pound. Noons is barely able to survive the round. 10-8 round for Jorge Masvidal.
KJ Noons corner did a good job at stopping the bleeding in between rounds. Noons starts off the second round a little more cautiously. Noons has Masvidal backed against the cage and lands a hard body shot. Noons lands a nice body shot uppercut combination. Noons cut is open again. Masvidal lands another takedown but Noons pops right back up to his feet. Masvidal lands a solid outside single takedown and is in fullguard top position. Masvidal lands two hard inside elbows on Noons. Noons is able to get back to his feet, but his face is mangled. Masvidal lands a hard looping right hand. Masvidal lands a hard kidney shot on Noons and shoots another takedown. The fighters are pressed against the cagewith Masvidal on an outside single takedown attempt. Masvidal is able to complete the takedown, but Koons gets back to his feet. Masvidal is on his back now and Noons lands some ground and pound. Both fighters back to their feet and Masvidal lands a nice jumping knee on KJ Noons. Noons face is busted up bad. 10-9 round for Masvidal.
Third round starts and Noons needs a finish to win this fight. Masvidal lands a nice jab and low kick. Noons throwing a little more wildly, but doesn’t land. Masvidal appears content to keeping Noons away with his jabs. Noons is landing more often than Masvidal this round so far. Masvidal with another jumping knee attempt that misses. Masvidal with a half hearted takedown attempt that Noons stuffs. Spinning back kick attempt by Masvidal, and Noons answers with a nice body head combination. Masvidal lands a takedown on Noons and locks up a possible choke attempt. Noons gets back up to his feet. Noons is very good at popping up back to his feet after a takedown but needs to finish Masvidal to win. Masvidal now in a very advantageous position on the ground. Noons again struggles back to his feet and Masvidal holds onto that single leg and again drags NOons to the ground. Round ends with Masvidal on top and KJ Noons going for a desperate kimura. I scored it 10-9 for Masvidal.
Masvidal wins the fight by 30-27 on all three Judges’ scorecard.
Brett Rogers (11-2) vs. Josh Barnett (29-5); Heavyweight
Long time veteran Josh Barnett takes on heavy handed Brett Rogers. Barnett has not fought in nearly a year, and it will be interesting to see if he can shake off the ring rust. Rogers starts the fight off with a hard leg kick, and Barnett answers shooting on on a single leg takedown. Barnett slams Rogers down to the ground and lands in side control. Barnett is attempting to step over Rogers head and Rogers is trying hard to shake Barnett off. Rogers scambles but Barnett is able to slide back into half guard. Barnett is able to transition into full mount position. Barnett is landing some shots from full mount position in an attempt to soften Rogers up. Rogers is able to shake Barnett off of full mount temporarily but Barnett easily slides back into full mount position. Fans are starting to bee, as Barnett has had full mount position for most of the round and is not able to finish the fight. 10-9 round for Barnett.
Second round starts off with Rogers staying back and throwing a few jabs, but Barnett lands a hard hook. Rogers goes in for a takedown but Barnett is able to easily throw Rogers to the ground and land on top. Barnett now going for an arm triangle choke, and Rogers is forced to tap. Second round submission victory for Barnett.
Alistair Overeem (34-11) vs. Fabricio Werdum (14-4-1); Heavyweight
Main event of the night, as Alistair Overeem hopes to avenge a prior loss to Fabricio Werdum in Pride from 2006. Werdum starts off with a high kick attempt that Overeem shrugs off. Werdum shots for a takedown that Overeem easily shakes off. Werdum shoots in for another takedown that Overeem shrugs off, and Werdum shoots again and Overeem shrugs it off. Werdum with a check kick and shoots for a takedown. Werdum again shoots, but Overeem shrugs it off again. Overeem lands a knee to the body. Overeem shoots an over hand right, and a body shot. Werdum answers with a combination. Werdum attempts to pull guard but Overeem does not attempt to go in. Werdum lands a nice two punch combination but Overeem is able to trip Werdum. Werdum shoots but Overeem sprawls again. Overeem lands a nice left hook that knocks Werdum to the ground. Werdum lands a nice right cross, and Overeem slams Werdum to the ground. Overeem hits a nice left hook and right hook to Werdum. Overeem hits a nice knee to the head of Werdum. 10-9 round for Overeem due to the stuffing of the takedown attempts of Werdum.
Second round starts off with Overeem throwing a looping right hook that does not land. Overeem answers a Werdum knee with his own knee to the body. Werdum lands a combination and Werdum lands a hard shot. Werdum lands two knees and lands some shots to Overeem. Werdum again tries to pull guard but is slow to get up. Overeem lands a nice left hook and then a niceshot to the body. Werdum looks tired in this round. Werdum is constantly trying to pull guard but Overeem keeps on getting back up. Overeem lands a hard right hand that causes Werdum to fall to the ground. Overeem is now in the guard of Werdum. Overeem of course gets back up to his feet and is slow to his feet. Overeem lands a knee that hurts Werdum. Werdum should be losing points in the mind of the judges for being so slow to get back up. Overeem lands another knee to the head of Werdum. Overeem in full guard now, landing a few short shots to Werdum. 10-9 round for Overeem, Werdum is looking embarrassing every time he falls to the ground and slowly gets back up.
Werdum lands multiple shots on Overeem to begin the third round and shoots in on an outside single leg. Overeem is loking tired this round. Werdum tries to pull guard but Overeem takes the back of Werdum. Werdum tries to roll through and both fighters are back on their feet. Overeem lands a looping right hook and Werdum pulls guard again. Werdum will not, and should not win this fight if he continuously tried to pull guard. Werdum is not doing bad on his feet, but the fact that he continuously tries to take the fight to the ground by just pulling guard is losing points with the judges and losing favor with the fans. Overeem back in full guard now, and the crowd begins to boo loudly. Crowd now starting to chant stand them up. This fight is a big disappointment. Werdum again slow to get back up. Werdum is landing more in the striking in this round, and goes for a knee bar in the end of the third round. I’ll score it 10-9 for Werdum, but the crowd boos heavily as the round ends, deservedly so.
Judges score it 29-28, 30-27 twice for Alistair Overeem.
Stars of the Night:
Jorge Masvidal looked extremely impressive in his fight against KJ Noons. Noons is supposed to be the better fighter in his standup ability, but Jorge Masvidal pummeled Noons on his feet. Strikeforce Lightweight champion has hopes of jumping to the UFC to face their champion, but he has to get past the dangerous Masvidal first.
Josh Barnett showed no signs of ring rust in his domination of Brett Rogers. After watching the extremely disappointing main event of Overeem against Werdum, I’d have to say that Barnett is now the favorite to win the whole tournament.
Daniel Cormier showed that his time with AKA has been paying off, and his standup technique has improved greatly. Cormier will be a force to contend with in the heavyweight division in years to come.