After all of the bad news last week concerning UFC 133, I was hoping that this week would feature nothing but good news and happiness. Naturally, the week has started with more bad news. As reported by Guilherme Cruz of Tatame, Overeem has been removed from the Strikeforce heavyweight tournament. Earlier today, Overeem told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour that he was unwilling to compete on the proposed date of September 10th due to nagging injuries, and that Zuffa had threatened to remove him from the tournament if he refused to participate.
As it turns out, that’s exactly what happened.
John Morgan of MMA Junkie followed up with UFC president Dana White, who stated: “It’s unfortunate that Alistair is unavailable, but situations like this are why there are alternates in the tournament.”
As it turns out, Daniel Cormier will take Overeem’s spot in the Strikeforce tournament. As disappointing as it is that Overeem is out, it’s exciting to see Cormier in the tournament. As far as I’m concerned, Cormier is a significantly better fighter than Overeem is. If that seems ludicrous for me to say, consider the following:
- At 51.43, Cormier has the second-highest SILVA score in the heavyweight division in MMA, behind Cain Velasquez. By comparison, Overeem’s SILVA score is just 33.19.
- The best three fighters Overeem has defeated in the recent past are Fabricio Werdum, Todd Duffee, and Brett Rogers. Cormier has comparable wins, against Jeff Monson, Tony Johnson Jr., and Soa Palelei, and is undefeated, while Overeem has lost 11 times in his career.
- Overeem has been competing in professional MMA for almost 12 years and is very unlikely to be getting better at this point. Cormier, on the other hand, has been competing for about 22 months and is almost guaranteed to improve from his current level of fighting.
- Cormier’s world-class wrestling credentials, from a historical standpoint, translate to MMA much better than Overeem’s world-class striking credentials.
Just as I had predicted that Werdum would beat Overeem, I was going to predict that Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva would beat Overeem as well. And if Overeem had managed to beat Silva, I would have then picked Josh Barnett to beat Overeem in the finals. (I don’t have a SILVA score for Sergei Kharitonov, so I cannot say at this point who I would predict to win in a rubber match between him and Overeem.)
Instead, I’m going to replace those “shock” picks with another “shock” pick (which might not be particularly shocking): Daniel Cormier is now my pick to eventually win the Strikeforce heavyweight tournament. He’ll have a very tough test against Antonio Silva in the semifinals, but I really feel that Cormier has the potential to do great things in the heavyweight division, and could even become one of the biggest challenges to Cain Velasquez’s heavyweight title.
So, it’s disappointing to see Overeem out; even though I was picking against him, he’s a fighter that has me on the edge of my seat every time he competes. However, I’m excited to see what Daniel Cormier can do, and if I’m right, this tournament will end with Cormier winning it all.