Although newer fans may not have heard of Dutch kickboxer Alistair Overeem until he handily defeated Brett “the Grim” Rogers on Saturday, the guy’s actually been fighting MMA since 1999. He began his career fighting for smaller promotions like Rings, 2H2H and It’s Showtime before debuting in M1 and PRIDE in 2002. His PRIDE record includes losses to some big name guys such as Chuck Liddell, Little Nog, Fabricio Werdum and Mauricio Shogun Rua, but he did handily defeat Vitor Belfort twice (once for PRIDE in ’05 and once for Strikeforce, in ’06.)
Overeem trains at Golden Glory Gym and also trains Muay Thai out in Thailand. His record is 33-11-1 including 19 submissions and 14 knockouts. In MMA, Overeem switched weight classes quite a bit before settling in as a heavyweight. He began his career at middleweight, then moved up to heavyweight, down to light heavyweight and then back up to heavyweight again. When he defeated Paul Buentello by submission (knees) he became the first Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion. He did not, however, defend his Strikeforce title until Saturday. He had seven fights after getting the title, but they were for other promotions: Ultimate Glory, Dynamite and DREAM. Saturday wasn’t the first time that Overeem was scheduled to fight Brett Rogers. however. The two were supposed to fight in June ’09, but Overeem pulled out of the bout with a hand inury.
But wait, you may be thinking. What about Fedor? As bvrasp pointed out in his excellent Strikeforce article, Overeem vs. Rogers was a befuddling fight considering that Overeem’s title is over two years old. Why was he not defending it against Fedor, who already handily defeated Brett Rogers? Isn’t Fedor the champ? That’s what everyone wants to know.
Some digging reveals that Fedor defeated Tim Sylvia for Affliction, and holds the World Alliance of Mixed Martial Arts (WAMMA) World Heavyweight Championship Belt. But WAMMA all but disappeared in the summer of ’09 and pretty much exists in name only. So basically there’s, like, two belts out there. And now Fedor is going to fight Werdum and Overeem fights the winner.
In the IWMMAR Heavyweight Rankings, Overeem wasn’t even close to Fedor. He came in at 9th place, behind not only Fedor (in first place, obviously) but also Lesnar, Carwin, Velasquez, Mir, Junior dos Santos and Little Nog. Overeem held a slight edge over Werdum. Of course, those rankings may change this month, and because there’s no cross-promotion fights putting together matchups is more challenging. And it’s not like Rogers didn’t get his crack at Fedor, either. Still, the matchmaking seems a little bit haphazard and calling Overeem the titleholder, while accurate, seems a bit odd after all these years. It did make for an exciting main event, though, especially since Fedor seems MIA…
Obviously Strikeforce wants to build up hype for their matches, and Overeem did call out Fedor. Aside from that, though, what do you think? Is Overeem’s belt even relevant at this point? Leave your thoughts in the comments.