Jeff Roberson/AP/Press Association Images Alistair Overeem will be appearing at Strikeforce this weekend.
Fight night

Un-caged: Is Strikeforce finally stepping out of the UFC’s shadow?

This week’s column looks at the highly-anticipated event in Texas.

ATTENTION TURNS TO the Strikeforce event in Texas this weekend as the long awaited quarter finals of the heavyweight tournament featuring Alistair Overeem, Fabricio Werdum, Josh Barnett and Brett Rogers finally takes place.

For years Strikeforce has been viewed as the UFC’s almost substandard little brother, who tried his best, but was never going to reach the heights of big bro.

It was seen to be a breeding ground for ex-UFC fighters or fighters looking to make it to the UFC, and that sometimes detracted from the standard of the pool of fighters that it actually held.

The event this weekend is arguably better, on paper at least, than the last two UFC events we have seen, with some very impressive fighters on the card.

Heavyweights collide

Alistair Overeem takes on the formidable Fabricio Werdum in the first quarter final of the night and he is looking to overturn the result of their last fight in which he lost via kimura.

Since then Overeem has gone on to be considered one of the top heavyweights in the world winning nine of his last ten fights in the first round on his way to the Strikeforce heavyweight championship belt.

Werdum sports an equally impressive record of late having dispensed of the one-time invincible Fedor Emelianenko and Antonio Silva in his last two fights.

This has led to the inevitable “immovable object versus unstoppable force” build-up but if you put the hype aside for a moment, this has the potential to be a great fight.

Werdum will no doubt look for the submission but he is coming up a much improved opponent who has been smashing everyone who has been put in front of him, and I fully expect him to overturn the result of their last fight.

In the other quarter final it’s the battle of the Americans as Brett Rogers takes on Josh Barnett. Rogers was tipped for greatness early in his career before he faced Overeem and Fedor who both inflicted defeats on his previously unblemished record.

He got back to winning ways with a unanimous decision victory over Ruben Villareal last time out and now faces a re-invigorated Josh Barnett, who is coming into this fight off the back of a five-fight winning streak.

This bout pits the wily old-timer against the man who hasn’t realised his potential yet and although I don’t think the winner of the tournament will come from this clash, it is a tough one to call. Rogers at his best should be good enough to nick the win.

Elsewhere on the card, stand-up technician KJ Noons takes on Jorge Masvidal in an encounter that should prove exciting as both men like to fight toe-to-toe. The winner is due to get a shot at current Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez and if Noons can avoid Mascidal’s lethal leg kicks, he should be too strong on the feet for him.

The heavyweight theme continues in the final two fights on the main card, as unbeaten Daniel Cormier comes up against veteran Jeff Munson and Valentijn Overeem takes on Chad Griggs.