The Strikeforce heavyweight world grand prix continues Saturday night four months after the first half of the quarterfinals were contested.
Current Strikeforce and DREAM heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem will fight Fabricio Werdum -- who ended Fedor Emelianenko's 10-year undefeated streak a year ago -- in the main event. The winner will fight Antonio Silva, who defeated Emelianenko in February, in early fall. The other quarterfinal matches Brett Rogers against Josh Barnett, with the winner to face Sergei Kharitinov. The finale will be held no later than early 2012.
"I like the challenges that lay in front of me," Overeem said. "You're going to have to face the strongest guy anyway. I never complain about a fight. I'm a fighter. I love to fight. It's what I do for a living. I've trained very hard for this fight, as will I do for my next fight. I'm ready to go. I was ready (four) weeks ago."
The tournament will give Overeem, 30, a chance to re-establish himself in America. A native of England who moved to the Netherlands as a child, Overeem competed mainly in Japan in recent years. He defeated Paul Buentello in 2007 to win the inaugural Strikeforce heavyweight championship. He returned to Strikeforce last year to defeat Rogers in May.
"I see this grand prix as an opportunity to show, not only the fans in the U.S., but to the fans all over the world that I'm the Number One," said Overeem, who won the K-1 World Grand Prix kickboxing tournament in December.
"You don't become (Number One) by beating no-names. You have to beat the names. I think this tournament holds very good names, experienced names, all sorts of names. I believe every fighter in the tournament is good and experienced. You have to beat the best to become the best."
To accomplish his goal, Overeem must first go through Werdum, who owns a victory over him in 2006 while both competed for Japanese promotion PRIDE. Overeem sought a return match for the past five years and is eager to redeem his performance.
"I have a lot of motivation," Overeem said. "I'm just happy this fight is happening. I wanted to fight Fabricio. Then the tournament came around. It gave me an excellent opportunity to fight him. You're going to see Saturday how motivated I am. Yeah, I'm motivated."
Werdum, who has won his past three fights to improve to 14-4-1, expects a similar result to 2006, when he earned a second-round victory via kimura.
"Overeem is a tough fighter," said Werdum, a 33-year-old Brazilian. "He is very good at standing. But I'm very prepared. For me, it's going to be a big challenge. But I'm ready to show the world that I will beat him again."
Barnett (29-5) is widely expected to advance through the other side of the bracket, although Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker cautions not to overlook Rogers (11-2).
"In MMA, anything can happen," Coker said. "That's the beauty of the sport. ... Brett's fought some tough guys. He raised his hand when we offered him Fedor. There was a minute there where I thought he was going to stop Fedor. The guy is a big man, very strong and a one-punch-knockout artist that can be a threat at any time."
Two additional heavyweight bouts are on the card. Daniel Cormier will fight Jeff Monson. Overeem's older brother, Valentijn, will fight Chad Griggs.
Lightweights K.J. Noons and Strikeforce newcomer Jorge Masvidal will also fight, with the winner likely to advance for a title shot against Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez.
"I just want to prove that I'm the best," Noons said. "I know my potential. ... I want the 155-pound title. I want to be the best. People say, 'Are you looking past him?' Of course, I'm looking past him. I want to be the champ. Who's after him? Gilbert. Who's after Gilbert? The UFC belt."
The preliminaries, which will air on HDNet at 8 p.m. EDT, include: lightweights Gesias Cavalcante vs. Justin Wilcox and Conor Heun vs. Magno Almeida; and welterweights Nah-Shon Burrell vs. Joe Ray, Todd Moore vs. Mike Bronzoulis and Brian Melancon vs. Isaac Vallie-Flag.
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