Strikeforce announced today that Fabricio Werdum (11-4-1) will take on Strikeforce World Heavyweight Champion Alistair “The Demolition Man” Overeem (29-11) during the live, Showtime telecast of Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg from San Jose, California’s HP Pavilion on Saturday, August 15.
This would mark the first title defense for the heavyweight champion since winning the title with a second round submission over Paul Buentello back in 2007. While not fighting for Strikforce since that time, Overeem has nonetheless remained active overseas, racking up three victories, in addition to dominating a bout with Mirko CroCop that was ruled a no-contest.
“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.”
For Fabricio Werdum, this bout represents his best chance at regaining his stature as a top heavyweight in MMA. The Brazilian was at one point at the top of the heavyweight rankings back in 2008. Having won consecutive bouts against Brandon Vera and Gabriel Gonzaga in the UFC, Werdum was on track for a title shot before an upset (and brutal) KO loss to Junior dos Santos derailed him. Subsequent contract disputes with the UFC forced Fabricio Werdum out of the promotion. Now with nearly one year of inactivity behind him, Werdum is looking for a quick path back to the top with a Strikeforce title win over the “Demolition Man.”
“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.”
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’ 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.
Here is the current card for the event:
– Strikeforce 145-pound Female Championship
Gina “Conviction” Carano vs. Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos
– Strikeforce World Lightweight Championship
Josh “The Punk” Thomson vs Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez
– Strikeforce World Heavyweight Championship
Alistair “Demolition Man” Overeem vs Fabricio Werdum
– Roger Gracie vs TBA
– Erin Toughhill vs TBA