Strikeforce returned to action on Saturday, June 18 from American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.  The event, dubbed “Overeem vs. Werdum” was headlined by the remaining quarterfinal bouts in the World Grand Prix heavyweight tournament.

Overeem avenges 2006 loss with lackluster decision

Current Strikeforce and K-1 heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem looked to make short work of multiple-time Abu Dhabi and world jiu-jitsu champion Fabricio Werdum.  The pair had met previously in the 2006 PRIDE open weight tournament, when Overeem was still competing in the 205 lb division.  The crafty Brazilian submitted Overeem with a kimura in that fight.

From the opening bell of their rematch, it was clear that neither fighter wanted to play the other’s game.  In an ugly display of strategic cat and mouse, Werdum repeatedly flopped onto his back and begged Overeem to dive into his dangerous guard.  “The Demolition Man” would have nothing of it and made Werdum stand up over and over throughout the first half of the fight.

Both fighters appeared to tire as the fight progressed, and Overeem would go to work inside Werdum’s guard in the second round.  Little damage was done, as Overeem was forced to defend Werdum’s submission and sweep attempts.

In the final round, Werdum actually landed a number of big knees from the clinch, but did not appear to inflict any damage on his opponent.  Overeem again worked from the top, but never came close to finishing the Brazilian.

The judges awarded the fight to Overeem with scores of 30-27, 30-27, and 29-28.  He moves on to face Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva in the tournament semifinals.

Barnett dominates Rogers; secures semifinal spot

Although Josh Barnett had been out of MMA action for nearly a year, it was hardly apparent as he battled fellow heavyweight Brett Rogers for a World Grand Prix semifinal slot.

Barnett quickly neutralized the dangerous striker by pressing Rogers against the cage and securing a body lock before dropping down for a big slam.  The veteran immediately moved to mount and forced Rogers to defend off his back for the entire round.

The second round featured more of the same, as Barnett again moved to mount less than a minute into the round.  Barnett quickly locked in an arm-triangle and Rogers was forced to tap to the choke.

Barnett moves on to face to Sergei Kharitonov  in the other half of the tournament bracket.

Masvidal outboxes Noons; makes case for title shot

Lightweights Jorge Masvidal and KJ Noons went to war for a potential shot at current lightweight kingpin Gilbert Melendez.

While many consider Noons to be one of the best strikers in MMA, with his professional boxing background, the Hawaiian did not show it against the hard-nosed Masvidal.  Masvidal opened up a large cut on Noons’ forehead in the opening round with a big knee.  Despite the blood, Noons pressed forward, but paid repeatedly against the devastating jab of Masvidal.

As the fight progressed, Masvidal forced Noons to work off his back and prevented him from mounting any offense.  The judges awarded Masvidal with a clear-cut unanimous decision.

Cormier shows improved striking, outpoints Monson

American Kickboxing Academy product and former Olympic wrestler, Daniel Cormier used an effective striking attack to neutralize fifty-three fight veteran Jeff Monson and his lethal submission game.

Cormier mixed in a variety of kicks and punches to score throughout the contest and used his wrestling prowess to fend off Monson’s takedown attempts.  The judges gave Cormier a clean sweep on the scorecards for the impressive performance, as he remained undefeated.

Griggs overwhelms V. Overeem

Rising heavyweight scrapper Chad “The Gravedigger” Griggs needed less than a round to dispatch of the older Overeem brother, Valentijn.  Despite having a significant experience disadvantage, Griggs quickly imposed his will, taking the fight to the ground with a well executed lateral drop.  From the half guard, he peppered Overeem with punches and elbows, forcing a tapout due to strikes only two minutes into the fight.

Undercard Summary

In another lightweight battle that had potential title implications, Brazilian Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante battled AKA’s Justin Wilcox.  After a back-and-forth technical striking display in the opening round, the Brazilian opened the second round more aggressive and unfortunately for the fighters and the fans, Wilcox moved directly into the path of Cavalcante’s hands and was poked in his left eye.  The fight was stopped and ruled a no decision.

A grappler’s duel graced the undercard as Conor Heun and Magno Almeida fought hard for three rounds.  Heun dominated the striking and wrestling, but Almeida nearly the ended the fight on multiple occasions with submission attempts.  While Heun got the nod on the scorecards, his right arm showed the effects of Almeida’s repeated attcks.

The remainder of the preliminary bouts featured Nah-Shon Burrell overpower Joe Ray and his submission game.  Issac Vallie-Flagg landed more strikes and worked hard off his back to take a split decision from Brian Melancon.  Finally, a welterweight fight between Todd Moore and Mike Bronzoulis was unaired after the other bouts ran long.  Moore won by unanimous decision.

MAIN CARD RESULTS

Alistair Overeem def. Fabricio Werdum by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)

Josh Barnett def. Brett Rogers by submission (arm-triangle choke). Round 2, 1:17

Jorge Masvidal def. K.J. Noons by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Daniel Cormier def. Jeff Monson by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Chad Griggs def. Valentijn Overeem by TKO (punches). Round 1, 2:08

PRELIMINARY CARD RESULTS

Justin Wilcox vs. Gesias Cavalcante ruled a no-decision (accidental eyepoke). Round 2, 0:31

Conor Heun def. Magno Almeida by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Nah-Shon Burrell def. Joe Ray by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Isaac Vallie-Flagg def. Brian Melancon by split-decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)

Todd Moore def. Mike Bronzoulis by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Photo: Alistair Overeem delivers a knee against Fabricio Werdum (Strikeforce)