San Jose - During their main event as part of the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix tournament on Saturday night, Fabricio Werdum appeared dead set on getting the fight to the ground while Alistair Overeem wanted at all costs to keep things on the feet.
The first casualty? Excitement. The second? A good bit of each guy’s reputation.
Overeem – the Strikeforce heavyweight champion – eventually emerged with a unanimous decision win after 15 fairly stagnant minutes and will advance to the tournament semifinal to face Antonio Silva. If part of his mission was to prove he belongs among MMA’s 265-pound elite however, he failed in that regard.
With Werdum doing everything he could think of to get the fight to the mat – including pulling guard and at one point literally clasping his hands and begging Overeem to follow him down – the champion looked tentative and unwilling to commit on the feet. While doing enough to nab the decision, Overeem’s stock certainly took at hit.
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This win did nothing to raise Overeem’s stock.
Barnett will now face Sergei Kharitonov in the semis. The winner of Overeem vs. Silva and Barnett vs. Kharitonov will meet in the tournament final at an as yet unannounced date.
In lightweight action, Jorge Masvidal likely earned a shot at Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez as he reduced KJ Noons to a bloody mess en route to a unanimous decision. Masvidal beat Noons at his own game, crafting a decided (and ugly) advantage in the striking. After Justin Wilcox’s bout the Gesias Cavalcante ended in a no contest earlier in the evening, Masvidal is the odds on favorite for a bout with Melendez.
"You're not going to see me get on my knees or nothing," Masvidal said in the cage, on the prospect of a title shot. "But if Scott Coker wants to make it happen, I'd be more than happy (to do it)."
Wilcox’s fight with Cavalcante ended abruptly when Wilcox was accidentally poked in the eye during the second round. In other televised action, Daniel Cormier defeated Jeff Monson by unanimous decision and Chad Griggs stopped Valentijn Overeem via first-round TKO.
Todd Moore def. Mike Bronzoulis via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Alistair Overeem def. Fabricio Werdum via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Josh Barnett def. Brett Rogers via submission (arm triangle choke), 1:17, round 2
Jorge Masvidal def. KJ Noons via unanimous decision (30–27, 30–27, 30–27)
Daniel Cormier def. Jeff Monson via unanimous decision (30–27, 30–27, 30–27)
Chad Griggs def. Valentijn Overeem via TKO (strikes), 2:08, round 1
Justin Wilcox and Gesias Cavalcante fought to a no decision (eye poke), 0:31, round 2
Conor Heun def. Magno Almeida via unanimous decision (29–28, 29–28, 29–28)
Nah-Shon Burrell def. Jow Ray via unanimous decision (29–28, 29–28, 29–28)
Isaac Vallie-Flagg def. Brian Melancon via split decision (28–29, 29–28, 29–28)
UFC President Dana White (above) embarrassed after Gray Maynard beat Clay Guida by split decision to win a lightweight bout and the main event of the UFC card in Atlantic City.
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