The importance of Strikeforce “Heavy Artillery” this Saturday, as it relates to the overall health of the promotion, cannot be overstated. In wake of its second appearance on CBS, which included a post-fight melee on national television, Strikeforce could use some good news from the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
Luckily, this show has the potential to make people forget what went down in the Music City, as the main event features Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem defending his strap against Clubber Lang lookalike Brett Rogers. Backing up that slugfest, former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski meets Antonio Silva in a fight likely to test the support system in the cage.
Plenty more violence will be discussed in the analysis that follows.
Strikeforce Heavyweight Championship
Alistair Overeem vs. Brett Rogers
The Breakdown: Overeem has been the Strikeforce heavyweight titleholder for two and a half years and will now get around to the hard part of being a champion — defending the shiny gold strap around his waist. Rogers, the long overdue challenger, enters on the strength of perhaps the most advantageous loss in sports history — a spirited showing against heavyweight demigod Fedor Emelianenko that ended with everyone’s favorite dead-eyed Russian hitting the knockout blow.
Rogers will face a similar disadvantage against Overeem, who is a mask and some dreadlocks shy of becoming an official Predator. An undeniably talented kickboxer with nasty front headlock skills and cringe-inducing ground-and-pound, Overeem has proven one of the most offensively versatile fighters in the heavyweight class. Rogers may not be some brainless brawler, but he lacks Overeem’s technical acumen and relies heavily on overwhelming opponents with power punches.
In heavyweight MMA, cinderblock fists, a stout chin and cool haircut will win you a lot of fights, but Rogers has started to run into the sort of competition capable of exposing his limitations. Overeem looks to have Rogers beat in close, thanks to his “Street Fighter”-style tiger knee, and from afar, the fight favors his telephone pole jab and diverse techniques. Even if Rogers can find a home for his powerful overhand, he needs to put Overeem down and out before the champion decides to change levels.
Overeem’s spectacular top control game hangs over Rogers’ head in this fight. Standing, Rogers may find himself at a disadvantage, but at least he has the tools to give Overeem pause; on the mat, it’s a different story.