Overeem advanced to the semifinals of Strikeforce’s 2011 heavyweight grand prix on the strength of a tepid unanimous decision, while Werdum was criticized by fans and pundits for repeatedly and unsuccessfully attempting to pull guard throughout the fight.
Speaking Tuesday to Sherdog.com, Werdum revealed that he was shocked at his own poor performance and apologized to MMA fans for the fight.
“I’m still trying to figure out what happened to me that night,” Werdum told Sherdog.com. “It wasn’t me fighting. What I did was awful, ugly to see. I want to apologize to Brazilian fans and MMA fans. I didn’t listen to my corner. Rafael [Cordeiro, Kings MMA leader] was telling me to keep striking, not to try to pull guard, but I didn’t do that. I wasn’t listening to him, wasn’t focusing on the fight the way that I should’ve been. It wasn’t a good fight for me or Overeem.”
Werdum had only two chances to work on the ground, and the 33-year-old failed to submit Overeem on both occasions. However, the Brazilian could have had more opportunities if some of his many takedown attempts worked. In spite of his inability to get the fight where he wanted it, “Vai Cavalo” refused to say his grappling and wrestling skills weren’t polished, and related his surprise with how strong his opponent was.
“I felt he was much, much stronger than me,” Werdum said of Overeem. “I tried to take him down many times, with double-legs, single-legs... but it was like hitting a wall. He was impressively strong. It wasn’t a lack of training. I worked hard with Mark Munoz, I took down everyone at the gym, but it was different in the fight. I just tried to pull him to my guard after I failed on my takedown attempts. I gotta get stronger to keep fighting at the highest level of heavyweight.”
Dissatisfied with his performance in the bizarre fight, Werdum now looks forward to a potential third meeting with Overeem, whom Werdum submitted during the 2006 Pride Fighting Championships openweight grand prix.
“Now we’re tied,” said Werdum. “I hope someday I can meet him again, to see how we break this tie. Maybe Saturday wasn’t my time to win. I thought I was 100-percent, but I wasn’t. I’ll work to fix my mistakes, because I want to be the Strikeforce or UFC champion.
“I’m sad because I know I could have won that fight,” Werdum lamented. “I showed a lot of improvement in my striking game, but I wanted to do some jiu-jitsu with him also. Everyone calls for me to strike, and I go. When I call people to my guard, they never go. I still want to see the K-1 champ, the guy who knocks everyone out in the first round. He didn’t show much, didn’t hit me hard enough to knock me down. I landed more punches and my mistake was to try so many times to pull him to my guard. I believe I lost to him, and not that he defeated me.”
Sometime this fall, in the tournament semifinals, Overeem will rematch another Brazilian who defeated Fedor Emelianenko, Antonio Silva. After what he saw in Saturday’s fight, Werdum believes his countryman will defeat the Dutchman and advance to the final.
“‘Bigfoot’ will beat him,” asserted Werdum. “I thought Overeem was going to show more, hit harder, but he didn’t. I suffered a lot because he’s much stronger than me, but Silva is naturally stronger. If [Silva] has a good camp and gets prepared well, he’ll take this fight for sure.”