The heavyweight division now has a clear number one contender, and his name is Fabricio Werdum. Werdum returned after a 10-month layoff between fights to take on #3 heavyweight Travis Browne in the main event of UFC on FOX 11 in Orlando, Florida. Coming into the fight as a 2-to-1 underdog, many believed the younger, striker Travis Browne would overcome the 36 year old Werdum. What took place over 5-rounds was what very few could have predicted, working with Kings MMA and former Chute Boxe coach, Rafael Cordeiro, Fabricio Werdum’s striking has reached a completely new level in MMA.
During his 10 months away from the cage, Werdum attributes his training to his improvement and the payoff was evident inside the cage tonight.
“I improved my training, I trained a lot for this fight. But I know this is the step for the title shot. I’m training everyday, I never stop the training,” Werdum Said. “I didn’t fight for a long time, my last fight was with [Antonio Rodrigo] Nogueira in Brazil. I just keep going training cause I know my dream is the belt. When I say to the guys, Tuesday, Thursday, I’m training for 6-7 hours, nobody believes myself. But I showed in the cage today.”
After weather an early storm that saw Browne seemingly hurt Werdum, but Werdum would in turn take down Travis Browne for the first time in his UFC career. From there on, it was ‘Vai Cavalo’ (go horse), as Werdum put on a technical display of striking against who many thought to be the better striker of the two in this fight—along with some brief moments on the ground, where the multiple time BJJ world champion Werdum controlled.
Werdum would win by a lopsided unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 49-48) to secure himself as the number one contender and earning himself a shot at current UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez.
“It was part of my game plan to exploit his cardio situation. I knew going in it was going to be tough to submit him, because he’s such a tough opponent and going into deeper rounds. And then I knew even if I was going to try to submit him, it would be 2-3 rounds to do it. So I decided cardio was going to be the way to do it.”
Fabricio Werdum has had one of the best career resurgences in MMA, from being released in 2008 after suffering a knockout loss, to now winning his 4th straight fight since returning to the UFC in 2012.
However, UFC president Dana White was one of the few that were not so impressed with Werdum’s performance.
“He picked him [Browne] apart. He fought a safe fight to guarantee that he was going to get the title shot. I think he could have finished Travis,” Dana said, also revealing that Travis Browne may have suffered a broken rib in the first round. “My question was how did Travis gas out 2 and a half minutes into the first round. They think he has a broken rib, they think he broke his rib in the first round. He definitely has a broken hand.”
Regardless, of how the fight went down. Werdum has secured himself the title shot against Cain Velasquez and now as many wonder–including Dana White–how will the Brazilian fair against the champion.
“It leaves question, how much more can he go, how much more can he give? You know what Cain’s going to do, Cain’s 100 MPH, he comes forward, he does damage and never stops damaging you until he finishes you. So we’ll see, we’ll see how it goes,” White said.
“I don’t think we saw all of Werdum’s tools tonight. I think that Werdum played it safe to guarantee that title shot, who knows what’s going to happen when he fights Cain. Because Cain is going to come right after him, 100%. The way that Travis would have tonight, and I’ll tell you this too, any question about Werdum’s chin probably go away after that big shot in that first round.”
Werdum admitted that he did fight a smart fight wary of Browne’s power in his hands, in order to advance and gain what he really wanted, was the next step in securing the title shot.
“I did not try to much risk because I know he has heavy hands, I felt that. Smart game because I know this fight is very important to me for my next step. I know have a lot of gas for this fight, but I just did a smart fight,” Werdum said.