The Doggy Bag: Topics of the Week - Clearing Up a Bracket

Jan 15, 2011
Alistair Overeem | Taro Irei/

This compromise on the Strikeforce heavyweight tournament is incomprehensible. If you can’t get all fights as five-rounders, what’s wrong with just running all the title fights as five-rounders and the rest as three, with the title up each time? If Fabricio Werdum beats Alistair Overeem, everyone knows he should have the belt, and then the next person he fights should have a chance to take it from him. Also, if Werdum beats ‘Reem and then loses to Fedor Emelianenko, Overeem’s next fight is the Fedor-Josh Barnett winner and not Werdum? Really?

Running the tournament as all three-rounders without the title on the line manages to cheapen the belt and the tournament. I know they say the sign of a good compromise is that everyone leaves unsatisfied, but this just makes them look bush-league.
-- Jody from Boston

Chris Nelson, assistant editor: Is the decision disappointing to some? Sure. But incomprehensible? Definitely not.

A tournament should be a level playing field -- a group of competitors taking part in identical matches throughout multiple rounds to determine a winner. Scheduling all of the Strikeforce tournament bouts for five rounds would be one thing, but to have one side of a bracket fighting five-by-fives while the other takes part in standard three-rounders throws everything out of balance.

Regarding Overeem’s title, maybe I’ve been watching too much Shooto, but I’m OK with the idea of a fighter beating the champion in a non-title match and then receiving a rematch for the belt.

While I appreciate the absurdity of the situation you laid out above, equally wacky things could happen if Overeem’s title were to be put on the line, or if all the fights were set for five rounds. Suppose Werdum takes a five-round decision against Overeem while Fedor does the same against Barnett. What are the odds that both of these men even make it to the next round? Or, maybe only Fedor is forced out. Does Werdum then put the title on the line against, say, Lavar Johnson?

Also, while I think it’s great that people are clamoring for more five-round fights in MMA, I’m not entirely sure a heavyweight tournament is the place to test them out. You could probably count all of MMA’s great heavyweight five-rounders on both hands.

In the end, I think all this worry could be for naught. With his recent form, it’s not hard to imagine Overeem simply tearing through the bracket, nor is it tough to envision the bulk of these fights ending in less than 15 minutes. Would it be nice to have those extra two rounds, just in case? Perhaps, but with no precedent for non-title five-rounders, even in high-profile fights like these, it seems unfair to ask Strikeforce to produce them... even if they did bring it up in the first place.

Personally, I’m more saddened by the fact that none of these fights will allow for grounded elbow strikes.

Continue Reading » Page Three: The Fans Won

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