SUNRISE, Fla. -- Martijn de Jong
doesn't come across as an arrogant or boastful man. But de Jong, the MMA coach for Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem
, sure is confident when he talks about Overeem's chances against the generally recognized heavyweight champion of MMA, Fedor Emelianenko
"I feel very good about Alistair's chances," de Jong said at the BankAtlantic Center here in South Florida, where another of de Jong's fighters, Marloes Coenen
, was appearing at Strikeforce Miami
. "Fedor's striking isn't even close to Alistair's."
De Jong noted that Overeem has had success as a K-1 kickboxer, and he said Emelianenko's fundamentally flawed punching technique would never work against a K-1 striker.
"Technically, Alistair's striking is way ahead of Fedor's," de Jong said. "If Fedor ever fought in K-1, they'd kick the s**t out of him."
And while that would suggest Overeem would prefer to keep a fight with Emelianenko standing up, de Jong also said Overeem would feel very confident on the ground against Fedor.
"People don't realize how good Alistair's ground game is," de Jong said, noting that Overeem has actually won more fights by submission (19) than by knockout or TKO (12).
Overeem spent 2009 concentrating mostly on kickboxing, and his only MMA fights were against overmatched, easy opponents. The last time Overeem fought a truly dangerous opponent, he lost by first-round TKO against Badr Hari in the K-1 World Grand Prix 2009 in December. But de Jong said Overeem wasn't hurt at all in that loss.
"His muscles didn't even ache after that," de Jong said. "I don't want to say it was a fast stoppage, but at the same time Alistair really just got knocked off balance on the second knockdown."
And while 2009 was a year in which Overeem focused mostly on kickboxing, de Jong says Overeem is completely focused on MMA, and that he only fought in K-1 because the promoters wanted him to.
"He didn't even like K-1 that much, but he really wanted to fight on the New Year's Eve card in 2008, and the promoters said the only fight they had for him was a K-1 rules fight against Badr Hari," de Jong said. "He took that even though he hadn't been training for K-1 just because he wanted a fight, and then when he knocked out Badr Hari they really wanted him to keep fighting in K-1 and give Badr Hari a chance at a rematch. But he considers himself an MMA fighter, not a kickboxer."
De Jong said Overeem would most likely fight one more time in Japan in March, a fight that could be contested under either MMA or K-1 rules. After that he'll finally be ready to return to the United States and focus completely on MMA. De Jong said he expects Strikeforce to give Overeem a fight in June and then, if he wins that fight, a fight against Emelianenko in the fall.
That fight, de Jong says, is the one Overeem is focused on: "He's really looking forward to fighting Fedor."