Welcome to another edition of the Heavy MMA Roundtable. Heavy MMA is live on the scene in St. Louis for Strikeforce: Heavy Artillery. To get you ready for all the action, we’ve assembled a wealth of MMA knowledge to tackle the real issues surrounding Saturday’s event.
Jeremy Botter – Lead Staff Writer, Heavy MMA
Nate Lawson – Feature Writer, Heavy MMA
Spencer Kyte – Staff Writer, Heavy MMA
Ryan Loco – Feature Contributor, Heavy MMA
Matt Brown – Senior Editor, Heavy MMA
In your opinion, what fighter “needs a win” the most on this card?
Botter: I can’t give the nod to Alistair Overeem, because win or lose, he’ll continue to have an overseas career in MMA and kickboxing. Brett Rogers is a different story, though. A win over Overeem will give him the Strikeforce heavyweight title, but more importantly, it will guarantee him a rematch with Fedor Emelianenko later in the year. He wants that rematch more than anything, which makes Saturday’s bout with Overeem incredibly important for him.
Kyte: The only possible answer here is Arlovski. People have written this dude off after two straight losses, and a third would be disaster. No one seems to care that those defeats came to Fedor and Brett Rogers, so while Silva is tough, all sceptics will see is three straight losses and it will be the end of Arlovski as a competitive option and major promotional fighter.
Lawson: Several fighters find themselves in must-win fights this weekend, but Andrei Arlovski certainly stands out. A loss to Antonio Silva would be his third in a row and would display just how far the former UFC champion has fallen. He needs this win to maintain any sort of relevance in the heavyweight division.
Loco: Andrei Arlovski. No one has fallen from grace like Mr. Arlovski has. If he were to lose, I think it’s fair to say that we won’t be seeing him on television anytime soon, unless it is to sell swampland with Erik Estrada.
Brown: I think it’s Alistair Overeem. There have been so many questions as to the legitimacy of his win streak due to the speculation of his…uh…supplementation routine? While Arlovski needs a win to prove he’s not washed up, Overeem needs this win to prove he really is a good fighter and put all the steroid talk to rest. A convincing win and a clean drug test could go a long way in Overeem being considered one of the elite heavyweights in the sport.
Is a win over Kevin Randleman enough to make you think Roger Gracie might be for real? He will have had three fights (all wins) in four years.
Botter: No, it’s not enough to convince me that he’s for real. Kevin Randleman stopped being a real measuring stick a long time ago. But it definitely represents a chance for Gracie to show that he’s not a one-trick pony, that he may have more tools in the bag than just a wicked submission game.
Kyte: Not in the least. Listen, Randleman was solid back in the days of one-dimensional fighters being able to compete. His wrestling was tremendous and he was a powerhouse, but those days are ancient history now. This is a name-brand squash match and unless Gracie breaks out a flying armbar for the win, he’ll need to do more to convince me that he is for real.
Lawson: A win over Randleman does not mean very much at all. “The Monster” has lost seven of his last 10 fights, which doesn’t exactly give a victory over him that much value. So no, I would not be convinced that Gracie was for real, simply because it is completely expected and highly likely. Just ask the odds-makers.
Loco: It would’ve, had this fight been 10 years ago. Nothing against Kevin Randleman, but a win over him just doesn’t hold as much weight anymore. It’s still a solid, impressive win for a guy like Roger, but it in no way puts Roger “on the map.”
Brown: There’s no doubt that Kevin Randleman is a tough dude. Unfortunately, there’s a lot more to being a great mixed martial artist than being tough. Kevin Randleman is a big, mean, scary looking guy, but the fact of the matter is that he’s 3-9 in his last 12 fights. It’s a nice “name” to beat, but certainly not a measuring stick as to where Roger fits in the game right now.
Where do you think Joey Villasenor and Jacare Souza would fall in the UFC’s middleweight division?
Botter: Villasenor wouldn’t even be a factor in the UFC at his point, but Jacare would easily be near the top five of that division. I don’t know that he has the skills to actually compete with the top five guys there, but he’s still better than most.
Kyte: Villasenor would be in the Patrick Cote range for me – a tough guy who could knock you out, but ultimately can’t compete with the upper echelon. And please don’t tell me how Cote challenged for a title before his last fight – Silva was simply out of fresh bodies. “Jacare” could fit right alongside fellow jiu jitsu ace Demian Maia. He’s just as gifted on the ground and would be a threat to anyone if he can bring them into his world. He’d always be at a disadvantage against bigger ‘85s, but there would be a bunch of guys who he could surely beat.
Lawson: Neither fighter would fall into title contention, but that’s not to say they could not succeed in the UFC. I’d put Villasenor in the same class as a Nate Quarry, while Souza would jump quite a bit higher. If I had to put money on either guy having success in the UFC, it would definitely be on Jacare. His ground game is just too slick.
Loco: If the UFC wanted Joey Villasenor, they would have had him by now. He’s a solid guy, but I don’t think he makes a dent in that division. Jacare I think has a chance in the UFC, but I do know they drug test there, and that may be a problem. Not saying Jacare uses steroids, I’m just saying Jacare and Overeem eat the same horse meat.
Brown: I think both would be solid middle of the pack guys. Villasenor would be a good gatekeeer. A guy you could throw in against up and comers and know that he’ll test them. And Jacare is one of the better grapplers in all of MMA, so he’d at least be a dangerous guy in there and know that if he gets a hold of someone, he could finish the fight. Think a Chris Leben or Rousimar Palhares.