The Curse of Fedor
What do Andrei Arlovski, Brett Rogers and Fabricio Werdum have in common? All three of them saw their stock drop greatly after they gave former Pride Fighting Championships heavyweight titleholder Fedor Emelianenko a much tougher fight than the conventional wisdom expected. Call it the “Curse of Fedor,” because it can no longer be dismissed or ignored.
After a bizarre decision win over Werdum in the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix quarter-finals on Saturday at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Alistair Overeem had not looked much like the man who had flattened his last six foes in the first round. However, much of that is probably due to Werdum’s game plan, which resembled a knuckleballer refusing to give a home run hitter anything meaningful to swing at.
In the opening round, Werdum went to the canvas, by my count, 14 times -- 10 from takedown attempts and four from spilling to the mat after failed tie-ups, getting clocked by Overeem or a general loss of footing. It became apparent early on that Werdum was embracing the best strategy available to him, regardless of its aesthetic appeal, and that Overeem was equally uninterested in helping the two-time Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist execute it. The result was a 15-minute match with little entertainment value.
After the bout, my first knee-jerk reaction was this: former EliteXC champion Antonio Silva is going to be quite a handful for Overeem in the semi-finals. The Dutchman got hit a lot with shots down the middle from Werdum, something the huge Silva does pretty well and with more power. Check the counters and jabs with which he whacked Emelianenko in February; those are the exact shots Overeem ate from Werdum. Silva also weighs around 285 pounds come fight time. If he gets on top of Overeem, that size and power does wonders for running the guy on bottom out of gas, and cardio is not something for which Overeem has ever been known.
Then I thought of everyone else that has looked surprisingly good against Emelianenko lately. Rogers went from being a guy with one signature win over former UFC heavyweight champion Arlovski to guy under consideration as a Top 10 contender after his lively tussle with Emelianenko, only to be badly outclassed by Overeem in his next bout. Rogers was outclassed again by Josh Barnett in Dallas, as he submitted to a second-round arm triangle choke.
Werdum’s submission of Emelianenko last summer in San Jose, Calif., was an all-time performance for the Brazilian, but perhaps it was more indicative of the Russian legend’s decline than a renewed push toward greatness for Werdum, who has always been an outstanding jiu-jitsu player.
Silva might also be overrated at this point simply because he beat Emelianenko. It’s something to consider, at least until he’s on top of you. Hopefully, for Overeem’s sake, he will not have experience that too much in their grand prix semi-final match later this year. All things considered, after this weekend, I’d definitely make Barnett the favorite of the remaining four.
Sucks to be Antonio Silva! He'll probably fight like shit now!
You forget that this isn't just some brutal sport where everyones out to kill each other. Its much more like a game of physical chess.-looney liam