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Werdum Calls Him 'My Son,' but Overeem Says Rematch a 'New Fight'

DALLAS – To Fabricio Werdum, it's just a joke. To Alistair Overeem, it's just plain confusing. But when Werdum calls Overeem his "son," it's not because he sees a family resemblance in the Dutch behemoth. It's because he remembers very well what happened the first time they met in a 2006 fight in Japan's Pride Fighting organization, when Werdum won via submission.

"It's like, if we play Xbox and I beat you five times: you're my son," Werdum told MMA Fighting earlier this week. "It's not because I'm an arrogant guy. It's joking around."

A joke, but at the same time the message is clear: I beat you once, and I can do it again.

Overeem, however, might not be getting that message.

"I still don't know what that means, so it doesn't bother me at all," the Strikeforce heavyweight champion said. "He can talk whatever he wants."

It's been five years since Werdum won the first meeting, and a lot has changed. For starters, Overeem grew an entirely different body. Back then he was "a light heavyweight fighting a heavyweight," he said. He weighed about 220 pounds and had nowhere near the power or the experience that he has today.

The Overeem that strolled into Thursday afternoon's media workouts looked like a man who would have used the Overeem of five years ago as a Q-tip. Everything on him is the size of something else. His arms are the size of a normal person's thighs. His thighs are the size of a normal person's Labrador retriever. If asked to identify the man who lost to Werdum that in Osaka, many of the spectators who were ringside that night would probably point to the present day Overeem and say it looked like a miniature version of that guy.

For Saturday night's Strikeforce Grand Prix quarterfinal match, Overeem estimates he'll be about 260 pounds. As his recent K-1 title indicates, he'll also be a much better striker than the one Werdum faced in Japan, so the result from the first fight might as well be thrown out altogether, at least in his mind.

"[Werdum] doesn't have a mental advantage," said Overeem. "He might think that, but for me, it's not there. I see this as a new fight. He's grown as a fighter, but so have I."

For Werdum, the differences are less physical than technical. Back in 2006 he hardly did any stand-up training, he said, "just jiu-jitsu." Now he's had time to improve his own striking, though he acknowledges that he probably has to get the fight to the floor in order to win. As for Overeem's increased size? Werdum is hoping that will be as much a hindrance as a help in the rematch.

"Now he's a bigger guy, so that means he has to carry more muscles and more weight," he said. "Probably he's going to get tired faster."

That is, if the fight lasts that long.

Overeem has spent just a shade over five combined minutes in the ring in his last three fights, so taking this wrecking ball into the later rounds might be harder than it sounds. That might explain why Overeem is as heavy as a 5-1 favorite according to some oddsmakers. Werdum isn't exactly known for his takedown skills, and if he has to stand in front of the man who recently earned the right to call himself the world's best kickboxer, even he doesn't seem terribly optimistic.

Then again, Werdum's fight with Fedor Emelianenko was supposed to be equally as hopeless, and look how that turned out. He went in as a heavy underdog, and emerged with one more fighter he can now call his son.

As Werdum reminded reporters on Thursday, that upset happened just about this time last year.

"June," the Brazilian said with a smile. "It's my month."