Cain Velasquez’s Next Opponent Could Be Fabricio Werdum

Cain Velasquez’s Next Opponent Could Be Fabricio Werdum


With the dust barely settled on UFC 166 and heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez’s second consecutive title defense, it appears that his next opponent may have already been selected. That man is none other than Fabricio Werdum.

At the post-fight presser, UFC President Dana White said of the Brazilian ground specialist:

“His whole game has improved. The guy’s a big, strong, durable guy, and his jiu-jitsu; he’s going to want to go to the ground, which makes this fight very interesting.”

On the points he raised, White is correct in his assessment.

‘Vai Cavalo’s’ whole game has improved. Werdum used to be a fighter that opponents only had to worry about on the ground; now he has the striking game to match..

In terms of a challenging Velasquez, he could if he can get the fight to the ground. However, could he? In a match between the two, the champion would most likely use his wrestling to keep the fight standing and then look to use his own formidable stand-up skills to test Werdum on the feet.

Further and in keeping with his modus operandi, Velasquez would look to use his incredible conditioning to push the pace on Werdum. Vai Cavalo has demonstrated some weakness here in the past — the most recent example being his fight with Alistair Overeem. Werdum looked tired and sluggish, and wasn’t able to go full strength for three rounds.  

If he matched with Velasquez, the thing that Werdum will need to focus on more than anything else will be his cardio. Of course, this will be true for any challenger that wishes to contest for Velasquez’s belt. Neither Werdum nor any fighter can show up to fightthe champ with anything less than a full gas tank. To do less will be to guarantee failure.

The other thing that Werdum might want to work into his gameplan would be jumping guard while in the clinch, because that’s probably the only way a fighter like ‘Vai Cavalo’ is going to get Velasquez to the ground.

As far as a pairing between the two, there’s not another bout that makes more sense. With Werdum ranked number three in the division and Junior Dos Santos having been summarily dispatched on Saturday night with no need or discussion of a rematch, ‘Vai Cavalo’ is the only logical choice.

Looking beyond Werdum, there’s really few fighters who pose a threat to Velasquez. Yes, Travis Browne and Josh Barnett are interesting bouts for Cain, but probably not full-on threats to defeat him. Stipe Miocic might have the power, technical skills, and cardio, but more than likely wouldn’t be able to keep the fight standing. As to Alistair Overeem, he’d more than likely get taken to the mat and beaten up. At this point, he has demonstrated neither the cardio nor the chin to be able to hang with Velasquez.

All things considered and given how he trashed the second best fighter in his division for the second time, Cain Velasquez looks to be a champion with legs and the first heavyweight capable of retaining the belt for a substantial period of time.

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  • Rory Kernaghan

    *Next victim

    • Brian Cox

      Could well be.

    • DeeJaySlyTee

      The question… Will Werdum be able to take Velazquez down? ….. I think NOT.

      • D

        Nope. He will probably resort to his flop, smile and beckon strategy to get the fight to the ground. Unfortunately, this has snooze fest written all over it.

  • thexperience1

    I def. think Cain get get Alistair down… but i highly doubt he'll control him on the ground. Alistair has very underrated grappling skills. More than half of his wins are subs! 19 to be exact… he's no joke on the ground! I honestly think if Alistair's cardio improves, he has the best chance to beat Cain. I dont see any other fighter beat him right now. Cain is a savage…

    • Brian Cox

      TE, the operative word in there is "if". Yeah, if Overeem had Cain's cardio, he'd probably blow through most, but he doesn't and I don't know how he gets it at this stage of the game.

      Yes, AO has ground sills, but up against Cain and what he brings to the table on that issue, I think he'd have little to fear.

      Then there is the issue of chin. Overeem's is dubious, where Velasquez's is solid.

      I actually think the only guy in the division who "might" beat him is Josh Barnett. Browne might be able to KO the champ, but I don't think he'd either be given the space or the time on his feet to get it done.

      In terms of dealing with him on the fence, I'd like to see how Cain fared against a high level Judoka. Someone with the core strength and technical skills to move Velasquez off of his feet.

      I don't know man, he's a machine. He really is. His cardio is off the shelf.

    • D

      I agree that Overeem has a chance to beat Cain IF he ever earns the shot. I don't think he has much chance of ever earning it. If he doesn't learn to check his ego at the cage door, remember that he is not Anderson Silva, and keep his hands up, Frank Mir will KO him all the way to WSOF. Don't get me wrong, he should win that fight, but I won't bet on him. Even if he does, he will be 2 or 3 wins from a title shot.

  • bananaboyz69

    his game have improve yes!! but lets be real he cant beat CV

  • GoldenBibi

    Awesome.. Werdum is a beast…I only question his cardio for this fight…

  • enjoylife321

    Personally I don't see Cain keeping the belt the way Anderson or GSP has been able. The guys at heavyweight hit too hard. I've been impressed with Werdum's standup. Cain will of course be the favourite but Werdums level of Juijutsu is much higher than Jnr and like you said Brian he won't be afraid to pull guard. In five rounds however, Cain Cardio and pace is scary.

    • Brian Cox

      As a broader question, what happened to jumping guard?

      It was like Mir vs. Cormier, why not jump guard; he could have easily done so in the clinches. BJJ guys who are amazing on the ground, but not so much on their feet, have to start becoming more proactive and creative in getting a fight to the ground and jumping a guard is a great tool.

      As good as Cain is, Werdum is a whole other level of grappler. That's a fight he probably doesn't win.

      • enjoylife321

        to be quite honest I was surprised at just how much time was spent up against the cage..I honestly thought jnr dos santos would have a new improved 'circling license' to get away from the cage..Werdums in a good position because he knows Cain's gameplan and has a much more confident jujitsu game.

        • Entity

          I know many with get upset, but how much difference is there in Cain's game plan from GSP's except Cain is bigger and does more damage? 90% of that fight was Cain pressing against the cage and attempted/ takedowns. GSP also uses strikes to implement his gameplan.

  • Ivy

    Give me a break Dana. You believe FW has as much chance of taking out Cain as you would another fight between Cain and JDS. Sick to death of all the hype.

  • nimbleweed

    With the current HW landscape I think the the real question when selecting the new No1 contender isn't who can can beat Cain it's who can 'upset' Cain.

    If we learned anything from Cain vs JDS II and III it's that JDS 'upset' him with his devastating one punch power… They have now fought 11 rounds and Cain won 10.

    Werdum has the Jiu Jitsu to take advantage of a gap and pull off a sub, he may have the improved muay thai to land a knee as Cain comes in… but he never wins a decision and he never wins the rematch.

    Overeem has the KO power, I dont think he has the speed at HW to find the sub but he has so many weaknesses for Cain to exploit, he's basically JDS with less discipline and a weaker chin.

    Barnett… pressure vs pressure, could be interesting but when you consider that Cormier completely had his card it's unlikely Cain wont implement the same gameplan to more devastating effect.

    Browne has looked great in his recent stoppages but lets face it there will be far less opportunity for the wild exchanges and acres of space that Overeem granted him to try that lazy front kick over and over and 'overeem' again!

    Summary… IMO Power Punchers and Submission Wizards give us the best chance of a first or second round upset… the matter of 'gas' becomes insignificant against Cain cos good endurance won't match Cains crazy endurance, wont withstand under his constant pressure and the fight reaches championship rounds… in all likelihood there is only one winner if the fight goes to the bell.

    I like the Werdum fight, we could see a new champ, just not a new reign.