MMA Analysis, Odds: Strikeforce's Overeem vs. Werdum

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After a long hiatus, the Strikeforce Heavyweight Tournament will complete it’s quarterfinal round with some potentially exciting bouts.  Alistair Overeem will make his bid to be number one Heavyweight in the world, while Josh Barnett will make a rare US appearance.

There’s potential for some real cash on this card, so let’s dig into these bouts and see where the value’s at.

Alistair Overeem -350

Fabricio Werdum +275

Valid Props: Fight Ends Inside Distance, Overeem by KO

Overeem has been making noise all over the combat sports world, and will face the stiffest test to his winning streak in some time in Fabricio Werdum.  Both guys are tremendously dangerous in their own way, but I can’t see Werdum getting much done here with Overeem’s size and training.  Considering the Golden Glory camp has picked up some serious takedown defense in the last year, Werdum’s chances of getting this to the mat are slim, making for a stand-up bout with a fairly obvious outcome.  Werdum’s chin will carry him for a round, but expect Overeem’s clinch knees to damage the body and force the stoppage inside of 3 rounds.

Josh Barnett -240

Brett Rogers +180

Valid Props: Fight Goes Distance

This is one of those fights I hate writing about because it isn’t likely to happen, but so far it looks like Barnett may fight in the US again.  His ongoing drama in the world of licensing and PEDs aside, Barnett has always been a dangerous fighter, and will make a dangerous draw in this stacked Heavyweight tournament.  His opponent isn’t level with his fellow Grand Prix fighters, but Brett Rogers comes to fight every time, and could pose a threat to Barnett early in this fight.  What I’m expecting here is a snorefest, as both men will be ring-rusted and leery of the others power, giving the fight to the better technical fighter in Barnett.  Look for a long bout of clinches, takedowns and general inactivity, as Barnett pushes Rogers around for 15 minutes.

Daniel Cormier -200

Jeff Monson +160

Valid Props: Fight Goes Distance

While his UFC stint wasn’t anything remarkable, Jeff Monson will make a return to a major organization, taking on Strikeforce’s homegrown star in Daniel Cormier.  While the world seems to be high on Cormier, I seriously question his ability to meaningfully fight at HW, having the build of a Light Heavy or even Middleweight fighter.  While I think his stubby arms and lack of height will catch up to him eventually, he’s fighting someone with the exact same problem in Jeff Monson.  This one is more likely to play out on the feet than on the mat, as neither man will be able to achieve significant positioning on the mat, putting the ball firmly in Cormier’s court.  While there are still questions about Cormier to be answered, this could be a smart bet if people jump on Monson.

Chad Griggs -185

Valentijn Overeem +145

Valid Props: Griggs by KO

Griggs is an ugly fighter, but sometimes ugly is just the way to go.  Much like the more talented Gian Villante was sucked into a brawl which he lost, Valentijn Overeem is in a similar boat here.  While Overeem is a sound technician, his lack of composure under fire and a suspect chin make this a hard fight to get behind him on.  Griggs has the power and endurance to keep up a constant assault, and unless Overeem lands a counter takedown or strike, he’ll lose this fight.

KJ Noons -160

Jorge Masvidal +130

Valid Props: Fight Goes Distance

Noons suffered a broken jaw against Nick Diaz

An exciting scrap if there ever was one, Noons makes his return from his failed Welterweight championship fight and drops back to Lightweight, facing Jorge Masvidal.  This is a great bout to watch, but one that makes me leery to put money down.  For one thing, Noons suffered a broken jaw and hand in his last fight, which are injuries that can plague a fighter forever.  Also, Masvidal is a tough fighter who has had flashes of brilliance, but has also dropped the ball in the conditioning department on a few occasions.  I think the real value here lies in the prop of either Decision or the Over.  Both guys knowing the other one can land the KO in an instant may make them fight a conservative bout, especially if they each get tagged early on.  Noons should take this if he fights on the inside and pressures Masvidal, but don’t sleep on Masvidal if the line gets out of control.

Justin Wilcox -160

Gesias Cavalcante +130

Valid Props: Fight Goes Distance

Another huge Lightweight bout for Strikeforce pits two of their best fighters together, as homegrown star Justin Wilcox faces Japanese sensation Gesias Cavalcante.  Wilcox has been on a tear in Strikeforce and continues to improve on his unique style of lunging offense and impeccable takedown defense, all while racking up wins.  JZ Cavalcante comes into this one off a controversial loss to Josh Thomson, but looked solid in his Strikeforce debut.  This fight comes down to whether or not Cavalcante can crack Wilcox riddle of footwork and counter-wrestling, as I don’t see JZ winning a striking bout here.  Just on virtue of speed and having fought many similar opponents lately, I have to give an edge to Wilcox to shut JZ down in this fight.  A decision win awaits Wilcox if he can keep up his tactics and keep out from underneath JZ.

Conor Heun -120

Magno Almeida -120

Valid Props: None

This fight is murder to bet on, but should be fun to watch.  Conor Heun makes his yearly visit to the Strikeforce cage and will face BJJ black belt Magno Almeida in his promotional debut.  Heun is much like a Jorge Gurgel, in that he’s a spectacular grappler that would much rather kickbox than use his true talents.  It could help him in a fight like this, as Almeida is a murderous top positional grappler and could give Heun fits if he can take him down.  While Heun is the better striker, Almeida is the larger fighter and far less battle-worn than Heun.  It’s anyone’s fight, so keep your wallet closed and enjoy the show.

Mikel Bronzoulis -140

Todd Moore +110

Valid Props: None

A fight that was supposed to have happened at Shark Fights 14, two Texans will throw down as Mikel Bronzoulis faces WEC veteran Todd Moore.  This is a classic bout of technique vs raw power, as Moore brings high-level wrestling to bare against Bronzoulis’ sheer force.  Bronzoulis has shut down other power-style fighters like Kamal Shalorus in the past, and while I think he can halt Moore here, it’s a risky bet either way.

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