Although they aren’t especially rare, there are only a few trilogies that have made their mark in MMA history. And judging by the ingredients of the rivalry between Fabricio Werdum and Alistair Overeem, the upcoming third fight between the heavyweight legends has everything to make their trilogy achieve that status. After all, eleven years after their first duel, the two fighters will finally be able to settle the score this summer.
Set for July, the fight that might get the winner a chance to compete for the heavyweight belt is also an example of the sport’s evolution. While, during their first clash at Pride FC, the still one-dimensional fighters struggled in a confrontation of styles that had the Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist coming out on top, the rematch favored the Dutch striker, who was better prepared physically.
This time, the fight will play out different than both of their first encounters, Werdum believes.
“I see Overeem as a lot smarter than before”, Werdum told AG. Fight. “He used to believe in his (physical) strength as he was taking that special juice in the morning… Now he’s out of juice. It’s different. He’s smarter, he’s expecting more. He looks for the counterattack, he knocked out Junior dos Santos and Mark Hunt very well.”
“He’s still a very dangerous fighter, but I see that he tires more. Overeem always had this thing where he would wear out a lot, his strikes are always 100%, and that makes him tire faster. But I’m studying his new phase (as a fighter) a lot.”
Despite not exactly being best friends, the fighters are far from being labeled “trash talkers”. The main reason for their trilogy fight seems to be that it makes sense for them to fight again. While Junior dos Santos faces champion Stipe Miocic on Saturday and Cain Velasquez is still on the sidelines with an injury, it’s up to Overeem and Werdum to determine who gets the next crack after champ and challenger get done with business this weekend in Texas.
“It’s a long-awaited fight, this trilogy”, Werdum said. “I’m very motivated. After having several fights being canceled, two of them against Velasquez and then with Ben Rothwell… One thing I don’t want to happen is that they cancel this fight. Everyone says that it is interesting. It’s one and one right now. I won in Pride and he won by points in Strikeforce in a horrible fight. Let’s decide and see who leaves with the victory. I’m doing a good camp, (I have) a good strategy. I trust a lot in my team.”
Another heavyweight fight that interests Werdum currently is this weekend’s UFC 211 headliner between Miocic and dos Santos. While dos Santos beat him – and Miocic – in the past, Werdum sides with Miocic in their rematch, who took his title a year ago.
“It’s going to be very interesting, as it was last time. “Cigano” won despite many people saying that he didn’t. (They said) that it was a very beautiful fight, and I see that if it is very similar, as I believe it will be, then I have Miocic winning. When the champion is the champion, if the fight is the same, you have to side with the champion. Unless it is a clear result that gives the victory to the challenger. I see Miocic winning by points.”