The Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament continued to much fanfare Saturday night at Strikeforce: Overeem vs. Werdum. The event was held at Dallas, Texas' American Airlines Center, pulling in a gate of $543,060 and 7,639 spectators. Though, in the end the next leg of the much-hyped Grand Prix turned into somewhat of a dud, as eight of the scheduled ten matchups ending without a finish.
The night was highlighted by a bizarre quarterfinals battle between Alistair Overeem and Fabricio Werdum. In a fifteen minute affair bursting with bluster and prolonged periods of inactivity, Overeem earned a decision victory over ‘Vai Cavalo'.
From the start it was clear that Werdum's only strategy, much to the chagrin of paying attendees, was to pull the fight to the ground by any means necessary. What followed was a inexplicable three round performance that had the Brazilian flopping to the floor more often than one would see from his soccer-playing brethren, even going so far as to clasp his hands together and mock-plead for ‘Demolition Man' to follow him down during certain stages in the fight.
In the second of the night's heavyweight Grand Prix quarterfinal bouts, Josh Barnett outclassed Brett Rogers on the mat, submitting the 6'5" giant at 1:17 of the second round via arm-triangle. The loss drops ‘The Grim' out of the tournament, and is the third consecutive under the Strikeforce banner for the former-contender.
Barnett dominated from the start, lifting the goliath clean in the air before power-bombing him onto the canvas within the first minute. From there the bout was dictated entirely by the former-UFC champ, who successfully worked to mount, where he wore down Rogers for the remainder of the round. The damage took its toll, as halfway through the second segment Barnett was able to take advantage of a tired Brett Rogers, securing mount again before finishing off the fight.
The night's biggest surprise came during Jorge Masvidal's astounding destruction of former EliteXC lightweight champion K.J. Noons. Leading into the fight, the journeyman Masvidal seemed to be a gimme opponent in place to justify a title shot for the popular Noons. A fighter without a single significant victory, ‘Gamebred' had struggled of late, only putting up a pedestrian 2-2 record in his previous four fights. However, as we learn time and time again, the best laid plans of men are often foiled in this sport of unpredictability.
Masvidal bloodied and battered the former champ with a staggering array of aggressive takedowns, furious combinations, and blistering knees. After winning by unanimous decision, the American Top Team product appears to be the next in line for a chance at Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez.
In other bouts, undefeated heavyweight prospect Daniel Cormier dominated Jeff Monson with a scorching stand-up attack to defeat the former UFC-title challenger via unanimous decision. The win pushes Cormier's record to 8-0, and is his fifth under the Strikeforce banner.
To round out the main card, Tucson-native Chad Griggs overwhelmed Valentijn Overeem with devastating ground-and-pound, forcing the Golden Glory heavyweight to surrender at 2:08 of round one. The win is Griggs' sixth consecutive, and third within Strikeforce. A battle with Cormier to determine the next heavyweight challenger could be on the horizon for the local firefighter.
Strikeforce ‘Overeem vs. Werdum' Results:
Alistair Overeem def. Fabricio Werdum via Decision (Unanimous)
Josh Barnett def. Brett Rogers via Submission (Arm-Triangle Choke) at 1:17 of Round 2
Jorge Masvidal def. K.J. Noons via Decision (Unanimous)
Daniel Cormier def. Jeff Monson via Decision (Unanimous)
Chad Griggs def. Valentijn Overeem via Submission (Punches) at 2:08 of Round 1
Justin Wilcox vs. Gesias Cavalcante ends in a No Decision (Wilcox Accidentally Poked in Eye) at 0:31 of Round 2
Conor Heun def. Magno Almeida via Decision (Unanimous)
Nah-Shon Burrell def. Joe Ray via Decision (Unanimous)
Isaac Vallie-Flagg def. Brian Melancon via Decision (Split)
Todd Moore def. Mike Bronzoulis via Decision (Unanimous)