Punch Drunk Preview – Strikeforce: Heavy Artillery
Another event means another installment of the Punch Drunk Preview here at Heavy MMA. This time, we train our focus on Saturday’s Strikeforce: Heavy Artillery card in St. Louis, headlined by a heavyweight title bout between champion Alistair Overeem and challenger Brett Rogers.
With all due respect to the six pairs of fighters taking to the cage before Lyle “Fancy Pants” Beerbohm and Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro wrap up the preliminary portion of the card, I would be doing them a disservice by discussing their fights here. I simply don’t know enough about them to offer anything other than snarky comments and lame jokes. Even I like to offer up some professionalism every once in a while.
Now that that’s out of the way, onto to the fighters I know and a collection of snarky comments and lame jokes…
Lyle Beerbohm (13-0-0) vs. Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro (20-3-0)
No matter what Beerbohm does in his career, two things will remain at the forefront of his biography: (1) his signature “fancy pants” fight shorts are made by his mother and (2) dude is a former meth-using felon who has turned his life around. A win over a respected veteran like Ribeiro would quickly land at #3 on his fact sheet, but that is easier said than done.
Only three men can claim a victory over the Brazilian jiu jitsu expert – Shinya Aoki, Gesias “JZ Calvan” Cavalcante and Tatsuya Kawajiri – and as good as Beerbohm has looked en route to thirteen-straight wins, this is a huge step up in competition.
Antwain Britt (11-3-0) vs. Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante (8-2-0)
The winner of this contest will take a step up the ladder and draw closer to a shot at Muhammed Lawal’s light heavyweight belt. Both enter off wins – Britt over previously unbeaten Scott Light, and “Feijao” against tough veteran Aaron Rosa – and get their first opportunity to gain serious exposure on Showtime.
Conditioning is always a concern for “Feijao,” who looked out of shape and sluggish in his loss to Mike Kyle last year. Britt will come out pushing the pace, so the Black House member better be prepared.
Roger Gracie (2-0-0) vs. Kevin Randleman (17-14-0)
Before everyone wets themselves at the prospect of another Gracie hitting the cage, let’s get one thing clear: beating Kevin Randleman at this point is like the Harlem Globetrotters beating the Washington Generals.
That said, Roger Gracie is a highly-decorated submission grappler who could be a dangerous addition to the heavyweight ranks. The problem is that he hasn’t appeared all that inclined to compete in MMA, as this will be just his third fight in four years, and first in two years. Let’s just hope it goes better than the last “Next Generation Gracie” we saw take to the cage…
Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (11-2-0) vs. Joey Villasenor (27-6-0)
Villasenor is a tough veteran who has beaten some quality opponents over the years, and enters this fight the winner of four consecutive contests. After more than a year on the shelf, he returned last June to defeat Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos by split decision. But once again, nearly a year has passed since we’ve seen “Smokin’ Joe,” and walking into “Jacare” after a prolonged layoff is a tall order.
Souza is one of the top BJJ players in the sport, and proved that again in his promotional debut against Matt Lindland, submitting him before the close of the first round. Though Villasenor will have the edge on the feet, the minute this fight hits the floor, it becomes academic. “Jacare” is that good.
Andrei Arlovski (15-7-0) vs. Antonio Silva (13-2-0)
This one is speed and technique versus power and brute force in a pivotal fight for both men.
Silva needs this win to avoid back-to-back losses for the first time in his career, and remain on the periphery of contention in the thin heavyweight division, while Arlovski needs this win simply to remain relevant.
Hard to believe that just sixteen months after facing Fedor, Arlovski could be staring at three-straight losses and becoming an afterthought in the sport, but that is exactly what will happen if he’s not fully prepared for this bout.
Alistair Overeem (32-11-0) vs. Brett Rogers (10-1-0)
Chemical-enhancement speculation aside, Overeem has been crushing people lately. While they haven’t been the biggest names in the sport, “The Demolition Man” has been living up to his name in both MMA and K-1.
Rogers acquitted himself well against Fedor back in November, and has the punching power to change the direction of a fight with one shot. While it didn’t work out that way against Emelianenko, Overeem has been floored before by heavy-handed opponents, and Rogers will be looking to add his name to that list in St. Louis.