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Overeem overwhelms Rogers to retain Strikeforce title at 'Heavy Artillery'

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ST. LOUIS — Alistair Overeem had something to prove in his Strikeforce heavyweight championship defense against Brett Rogers on Saturday.

Overeem, who had not defended his title since winning it in November 2007, did just that, and in impressive fashion, picking up a technical knockout win over Rogers at "Strikeforce: Heavy Artillery" in front of 8,136 fans at Scottrade Center.

 

The end came at 3:40 of the first round.

 

Rogers landed just one strike in the entire fight and looked out of place once Overeem took him to the ground. From there, Overeem was patient and eventually moved back into side control, where he started, and fired away at Rogers until referee "Big John" McCarthy called a halt to the contest.

 

"Anything he would've done, I think the result would've been the same," Overeem said. "Maybe I would've knocked him out in the second round instead of the first.

 

"He's a big guy, he's a strong guy, but I was ready for anything he was going to do."

 

SBN coverage of Strikeforce St. Louis: Heavy Artillery

It is Rogers' second straight loss after starting his career 10-0. It was in this same building a little less than a year ago that his star shot up because of a 22-second knockout of Andrei Arlovski. Now, after two straight tough defeats, it's back to the drawing board for the St. Paul, Minn. native.

 

Now Overeem turns his focus to the June 26 bout between Fedor Emelianenko and Fabricio Werdum. Overeem likely would get the winner of that fight.

 

"I'm sure you'll be looking for the Fedor fight in the future," Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker said to Overeem during the post-fight press conference.

 

"Alistair has told me many times he would like to fight Fedor," Coker said to the media. "He has called Fedor out in Japan when he fights in Japan all the time, so he's looking forward to that fight. It has to be something that we sit down with M-1 with after the June 26 fight, but I don't think you can count out Fabricio."

 

In the evening's other heavyweight attraction, former EliteXC champion Antonio Silva picked up the biggest win of his career with a unanimous decision win over former UFC heavyweight kingpin Andrei Arlovski.

 

All three judges scored the bout 29-28 for Silva, who outstruck Arlovski for much of the fight, landing 52 percent of his trikes (67-of-128) while Arlovski landed just 38 percent (53-of-139).

 

"When I watched the fight, I was surprised at how well he did in the stand-up against Andrei," Coker said. "I know he was going right for that chin, I'm sure, but the stand-up part, I was really surprised and i was very happy for him and how well he was able to do in the stand-up battle."

 

Arlovski, who was knocked out in the first round of his last two fighters (against Emelianenko and Rogers, absorbed several hard shots from Silva and helped his chin reclaim some of the credibility it lost during those two losses.

 

"I took a couple of his shots straight to my chin," Arlovski said. "I guess I showed fans my chin (is) not weak."

 

Arlovski said he had a great camp but said it's hard to come back from an 11-month layoff, with his last fight coming against Rogers, also in St. Louis.

 

"He's a tough fighter," Arlovski said. "Tonight just wasn't my night."

 

Arlovski said his boxing "wasn't great" and he needs to be more aggressive and more active in the future. He also said he was surprised that Silva stood and traded with him.

 

"I waited too much," he said. "I didn't move to my right."

 

Arlovski, who got the biggest reaction of anybody on the show, said he hopes to be back in action as soon as possible.

 

In the featured middleweight bout, Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza picked up a unanimous decision victory over veteran Joey Villasenor. Two judges scored the bout 29-28, the other 30-27.

 

Jacare dominated the fight, taking Villasenor down seemingly at will, landing 8-of-14 attempts as more than half the fight was spent on the floor.

 

Villasenor was mounted in the first round, the only dominant position of the fight, but was able to buck Jacare. Despite small survival victories, Villasenor was outclassed but held tough throughout the 15 minutes.

 

"I was impressed to see him keep coming back after hits and keep charging forward," Jacare said through an interpreter. "That impressed me, but that's what I like. I like a fight like that, moving forward and very spirited."

 

Jacare now is 2-0 in Strikeforce (his other win coming against Matt Lindland in December) and appears to be inching closer to title contention. He said Strikeforce is his home now and that he doesn't expect to fight in Japan for "a while."

 

"You'll see Jacare back sooner than later," Coker said. "We plan to have Jacare back in the next three to four months."

 

The evening started with two light-heavyweight tilts. The first was a potential title eliminator between Rafael "Feijao" Calvacante and Antwain Britt.

 

Both men weren't afraid to trade strikes, as Britt threw more punches (53) in the 3:44 of this fight than Villasenor did strikes (50) in his whole fight, but it was Feijao (18-of-28 strikes) that made them count.

 

It was two hooks and a cross that sent Britt crashing to the canvas and had the referee jumping in to make the save at 3:44 of the first round.

 

Feijao now is likely looking at a light-heavyweight title match with champion "King Mo" Lawal, who captured his title last month.

 

"I'm waiting for Strikeforce," Feijao said. "What they decide, I'm ready for."

 

Said Coker: "I think Feijao's improved his stock. We're going to take a look at some of the options. He's definitely taken a big step forward heading into that direction."

 

Roger Gracie made a successful Strikeforce debut, submitting former UFC heavyweight champion Kevin Randleman with a rear-naked choke in the second round.

 

From a striking perspective, it wasn't a pretty night for Gracie, as he landed only 23 percent (28-of-122) of his strikes. But after a stale first round, Gracie clipped Randleman with a knee and dropped him, eventually putting him to sleep with the rear-naked choke at 4:10 of the round.

 

Saturday marked Gracie's return to MMA following a two-year layoff. Still, Gracie stayed active in grappling tournaments, something that helped him combat potential ring rust.

 

"That definitely helped me a lot," Gracie said. "The hardest thing is to deal with the pressure and the adrenaline before the fight."

 

In the undercard's featured bout, Lyle Beerbohm remained undefeated with a split decision victory against Vitor "Shaolin" Riberio. The scorecards read 29-28 for Shaolin and 30-27 twice for Beerbohm.