Opinion: Big Plans for Fabricio Werdum
By Jesse Heitz
Last weekend, we witnessed UFC Heavyweight Champion, Cain Velasquez, utterly and completely handle Junior dos Santos in UFC 166’s main event. The champion retained his title, taking the rubber match in dominating fashion. On the heels of this incredible victory, another fighter has stepped out from the shadows to call out the champion. That man is Fabricio Werdum.
In parts of several interviews strung together by an ESPN article authored by Josh Gross, Werdum (through his wife’s translation) and his coach, Rafael Cordeiro, elaborated on Werdum’s plans to challenge Velasquez in the very near future, stating,
“Fedor fought 10 years without losing. I showed the world I could do it. But it’s important for me that my fans, my family, my friends and my team believe in me.”
“Fabricio worked hard for a long time. He expected this fight. I think this fight against Cain fits very well for him.” stated Rafael Cordeiro
“I think today he’s a complete fighter. His stand-up is better than ‘Cigano’ at the moment because Cigano just throws punches. Fabricio today throws punches, knees, kicks. And his jiu-jitsu is amazing. I think we have a good, good chance to take this belt and win this fight.” Cordeiro said.
“If I can submit Cain, it’s going to be awesome. I’ll try. I have this in my mind. I want to break records. I want to submit Fedor, submit Minotauro, then submit Cain Velasquez. That would be awesome for my career.” Werdum said.
I admire Werdum’s moxie. Most people wouldn’t be eager to step into the cage with arguably the world’s greatest fighter, a man who just pulverized dos Santos. Yet, Werdum not only is eager for his upcoming date with destiny, he’s publicly expressing his belief that he’ll unseat the king and take his crown.
This could be very likely as Werdum is an exceptionally dangerous fighter. He possesses a solid and well-rounded striking even if lacking proven “lights out” power, mixed with a world class ground game. It’s a fearsome combination to be sure.
However, it’s a mistake to compare Fedor Emelianenko at the tail end of his career against Velasquez who is just in the thick of his prime. The Fedor that fought Werdum, and later Antonio Silva, was not the unstoppable monster that ruled Pride. He was older, slower, and broken down. Velasquez is none of those things, he’s the sport’s apex predator and has been notching his belt with only premier competition.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect a fighter to entertain or outright mention that they may lose or don’t like their chances, but Werdum shouldn’t put the wagon in front of the horse here. Velasquez will be his toughest test to date, so he’d be well-advised to focus on winning before pondering his possible position amongst the all-time greats.