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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.

7 Comments
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  1. MMAKansas says:

    I think it’s relevant – about as relevant as any “organization” belt is… really, it’s not like a commission picks and matches, this is all subjective and it always has been.

    So what would anyone propose… a “interim belt and unification match” like the UFC puts on? I laugh at those because people are genuinely drawn into them but they are usually just to get ratings and keep people watching… even Carwin admitted it..

    • Yael Grauer says:

      The weird thing was that SF didn’t seem to think it was relevant for the past two years…

      With the UFC interim belt thing, at least it gives guys a chance to fight 5 rounds when they otherwise wouldn’t have…

  2. bvrasp says:

    Yeah, the belt is still relevant because Fedor is not your average fighter. He’s more of a variable than a constant, he might just walk away from Strikeforce tomorrow. They want him as a draw, not as the backbone of the organization.

    If they keep Overeem around and get him some good fights, I think that would be the best move in terms of business. Especially if he was able to BEAT Fedor in this fight, they should Fire Fedor immediately and hire 30 young prospects to the roster (would be cheaper than keeping Fedor around). Depth is something they are sorely lacking in Strikeforce.

    • MMAKansas says:

      I think SF is trying to become UFC deuce waaay too fast by acquiring contracts for fighters that for one they cannot afford and for two aren’t known among casual audiences. IE – FEDOR -

  3. MMAKansas says:

    Fedor is getting $400k per fight from small orgs – the guy is smart, I wonder how much the UFC offered him….

    I bet he will just fight in smaller promos and carry that “unbeatable” aura with him right into retirement.

    • bvrasp says:

      Kansas, I’m sure the UFC would have offered Fedor 400-500k per fight if that meant locking him down to a 6 fight deal (which they could terminate whenever they wish).

      The problem is it doesn’t stop there, it’s the 50/50 co-promotion that the UFC opposes (and rightly so). They are looking to sign a fighter, not a partner.

      When you include the cut from M-1, sponsorships and other undisclosed pay, Fedor is making somewhere over 1 mil and less than 2 mil for each fight. 400k is just the fight purse.

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