One new champion, a second show in Mexico, and three questions to be asked. Let’s get right into the action much like they did from the Mexico City Arena this past weekend.
Was it really just ring rust?
I won’t deny that ring rust was evident for Cain Velasquez during his shocking third round submission loss to Fabricio Werdum. That was far from the best-looking Velasquez we have ever seen. But look deeper than just ring rust and you find Werdum had a great gameplan from day one.
The first thing to mention is that Werdum trained in Jiquipilcois, Mexico, which is 1500 feet higher than Mexico City, a month before the fight. By comparison, Velasquez went to Mexico City a mere two weeks prior. Werdum knew cardio was going to be a huge factor and prepared accordingly. Velasquez is relentless; everyone knows that, including Werdum. He comes at fighters with tenacity and heart unmatched by most heavyweights.
Werdum worked on knees in the clinch, knowing he was going to be there. Fighters like JDS and Bigfoot (Velasquez’ last 5 opponents) throw looping punches and straight body shots, which are easier to walk through. What I noticed was a lack of head movement from Velasquez that resulted in Werdum landing straight punch after straight punch, and a few uppercuts for good measure.
When he tried to bait Velasquez into the ground, he knew the former champ was scared of his ground game, giving him confidence if it ever got there. When Velasquez’ straightforward approach was being countered with straight punches from the longer fighter and he didn’t want to go to the ground, he got confused.
There was a point where all Velasquez could do was kick his legs in frustration. When all else fails, a fighter goes to his roots and Werdum was waiting for that one takedown. When it came, that was all he needed to lock in a submission and win. Remember this is the man that submitted Fedor Emelianenko and knocked out Mark Hunt.
I’m sure Velasquez will earn a his way back to the top for a rematch. But until then, let’s start giving credit where credit is due. Fabricio Werdum is now the baddest man on the planet.