Now that the cream of the UFC heavyweight division has risen to the top, MMA fans can turn their attention to the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament quarterfinal fights this Saturday.
The long-awaited Strikeforce: Overeem vs. Werdum fight card should answer a lot of questions for many fans who are wondering if the eventual winner of the Grand Prix could go on to dominate the top UFC heavyweights once Zuffa begins to incorporate the Strikeforce heavyweight talent under the UFC brand.
Fabricio Werdum is the one fighter in the tournament who is capable of showing us how the Strikeforce talent compares to the big men in the UFC.
Werdum has recently been in against the best fighters in both promotions, and how he fairs against Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem should not only set the tone for how the rest of the Grand Prix will likely play out, but it should also offer MMA fans an idea of how the eventual tournament winner might stack up against either Cain Velasquez or Junior dos Santos.
If Werdum can survive the initial barrage that Overeem will be bringing on June 18, and go on to beat the Strikeforce heavyweight champ, it will tell us that Overeem's recent dominance is due to a lack of top-tier competition.
If the -315 favorite Overeem walks right through Werdum, as I fully expect he will do, then the champ will prove that he can indeed dominate top names in the division.
The same should apply for the other quarterfinal tournament fight on the card.
Josh Barnett is a heavy -300 favorite against the hard-hitting Brett Rogers, and if the former UFC heavyweight champ Barnett falls short in any way against his one-dimensional opponent, the chances of a 33-year-old Barnett winning the Grand Prix will be a long shot; let alone the notion of him going on to dominate in the UFC again.
Realistically, the only heavyweight fighter in the Strikeforce promotion that has a chance to come into the UFC and make a big impact is Alistair Overeem. If he wins the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix in convincing fashion you can bet that Zuffa is going to cash in on bringing him over, and we could potentially see him in the Octagon shortly after the Grand Prix wraps up, whenever that might be.
So how will Overeem stack up against the UFC elite?
His best chance at success would most likely be against Junior dos Santos. Overeem's kickboxing skills could negate Dos Santos' stand-up game, especially if Overeem can utilize his reach advantage and leg kicks to their potential.
Against Velasquez I give Overeem less of a chance. The counter-punching technique and wrestling skills of the UFC champ Velasquez should prove to be too much for an Alistair Overeem that has been capable of wilting when the pressure is turned up high and he is forced deep into fights.
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