Overeem to Defend Strikeforce Title in Rematch with Werdum
STRIKEFORCE World Heavyweight Champion Alistair “The Demolition Man” Overeem (29-11) will put his coveted title on the line and, at the same time, attempt to avenge a previous defeat when he squares off with old nemesis and two-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Champion Fabricio “Vai Cavalo” Werdum (11-4-1) during the live, SHOWTIME® telecast of STRIKEFORCE: “Carano vs. Cyborg” from San Jose, California’s HP Pavilion on Saturday, August 15.
“I’m very happy that I’m being given the opportunity to fight him again and I’m looking forward to beating him,” said the 29-year-old Overeem who, at 6 feet 5 inches tall and a chiseled 250 pounds, is considered one of the sport’s most impressive physical specimens. Overeem hails from The Netherlands and is a longtime member of the country’s Team Golden Glory, the fight squad that boasts a host of the world’s top martial arts fighters. “This is the one rematch I’ve wanted. I’m going to punish this guy.”
The 31-year-old Werdum, a native of Porto Alegre, Brazil, is similarly confident about his chances of conquering Overeem a second time. Werdum, who relocated to Huntington Beach, California earlier this year to train with The United States affiliate of Brazil’s Chute Boxe fight camp, submitted Overeem with a kimura in the second round (3:43) of their first encounter, which took place at Pride: “Total Elimination Absolute” in Osaka, Japan on May 5, 2006. The matchup was Werdum’s fifth of a six fight stint under the now-defunct Pride organization.
“I am very confident. I have trained my whole life for this moment,” said the 6 foot 4 inch, 235 pound Werdum regarding the rematch with Overeem. “Coming in as the challenger in a title match is a huge motivating factor for me. Whether the fight is against Alistair or another fighter doesn’t necessarily matter to me. What matters is that I am fighting the champion.”
“STRIKEFORCE is one of the biggest and most prestigious organizations in the world,” continued Werdum. “To become the heavyweight champion for such a respected organization would be an honor that is beyond words.”
Last October, Werdum completed a four-fight stretch with UFC during which he toppled both former heavyweight championship challenger Gabriel Gonzaga and Brandon “The Truth” Vera. Prior to his debut in The Octagon, Werdum pulled off an impressive first round (3:24) submission (arm triangle choke) of two-time Russian National Sambo champion, Aleksander Emelianenko, brother of the world’s top heavyweight MMA fighter, Fedor Emelianenko.
Overeem was crowned the first STRIKEFORCE World Heavyweight Champion in history on November 16, 2007 after he brutalized fellow heavy hitter Paul “The Headhunter” Buentello with a relentless offensive, finally stopping Buentello with a series of hard knee strikes to the midsection in the second round (3:42) of action at HP Pavilion.
Overeem made his debut with STRIKEFORCE at HP Pavilion on June 9, 2006, earning a one-sided, unanimous decision over Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort in the main event of the second STRIKEFORCE MMA card in history. The outcome marked Overeem’s second career win over Belfort.
The possibility of a rematch between Overeem and Werdum moved one step closer to becoming a reality on April 11th of this year when both fighters were guests at the STRIKEFORCE: “Shamrock vs. Diaz” mega-card at HP Pavilion. While Overeem was addressing the media on hand for the post-fight press conference, Werdum stood up from the audience and issued a challenge to Overeem.
In the main event on August 15, mixed martial arts’ (MMA) leading lady, the undefeated and extremely popular Gina “Conviction” Carano (7-0), will square off with rival powerhouse Cris “Cyborg” (7-1) in what is one of the most eagerly anticipated battles of all time.
Carano and Cyborg, the consensus two best female fighters in the world, will be the first women in MMA history to headline a major MMA fight card. In addition, they will fight for the first STRIKEFORCE 145-pound Female Championship.
In yet another title bout, STRIKEFORCE World Lightweight (155 pounds) Champion Josh “The Punk” Thomson (16-2) will put his title on the line against Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez (15-2), the man whom Thomson dethroned by way of unanimous decision at HP Pavilion on June 27, 2008.