(One of the few times when shucking and/or ducking would have been the better career move.)
Well, this train has pulled into the station right on time. Not more than a couple hours after Strikeforce confirmed that Alistair Overeem would defend his heavyweight title against Fabricio Werdum, thus screwing over undefeated big man Brett Rogers, Rogers’ trainer/manager, Mike Reilly, has already responded exactly the way you probably expected him to:
"I don’t think Overeem was ever planning on fighting Brett," Reilly said. "I think Overeem is afraid of Brett. He’s afraid of a big striker who is going to knock him out. … I don’t think anyone is going to admit that, but I’m not going to shy away from it. He’s had two opportunities to fight Brett but he hasn’t taken either of [them]. … if I was Overeem, I would avoid Brett too. It’s a horrible f***ing fight for Overeem."
At least we got that over with.
So here’s the question we have to ask ourselves: is Overeem really scared of Brett Rogers, so much so that he decided to make his first title defense against someone who already has a victory over him instead of facing the dreaded Grimm? Probably not. Yes, Rogers is 10-0, but his list of opponents isn’t terribly prestigious until you get to his last fight, which no one expected him to win right up until the moment he bum-rushed Arlovski and shocked the world.
What’s more likely is that Overeem sees Rogers as a dangerous, but still relatively unknown opponent and decided that there’s not enough upside to justify the risk. If he beats Werdum (which Rogers’ manager says he doesn’t expect him to do) he can say he avenged a loss. And who doesn’t like saying that?
But in case you’re in danger of taking whatever Rogers’ manager says too seriously, we should note that he also added this warning to undersized heavyweights in general:
"If you are under 250 pounds right now, just forget about fighting Brett Rogers because all that is going to happen is that you are going to get your head spun around."
When reached for comment Fedor Emelianenko responded, via a translator, ‘Brett who? How did you get this number?’