Number three-ranked UFC heavyweight Fabricio “Vai Cavalo” Werdum finds himself in excellent position after last Saturday’s UFC 166. Cain Velasquez soundly defeated archrival Junior dos Santos in their trilogy match, cementing himself as the clear king of MMA’s biggest division.
That was good news for Werdum, who is the likely next contender to Velasquez’ belt. Had dos Santos pulled off the victory, Werdum may not have gotten the immediate shot thanks to his 2008 knockout loss to dos Santos. It was a one-sided upset for “Cigano,” who put Werdum away with a well-timed uppercut that is repeatedly played on highlight reels.
But Werdum has fought well since then, and was most recently seen submitting Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira with an armbar in UFC on Fuel TV 10’s main event this June. “Vai Cavalo” met up with MMA Fighting to discuss how he matches up with the champ:
“It’s too soon to say that I will submit him or what’s going to happen in this fight,” he said. “It will be a great fight. His style is perfect for me. ‘Cigano’ is a striker so Cain worked intelligently to use the right strategy to avoid that. It won’t be a slow-paced fight. I won’t let him do that clinch game with me. I expect an exciting fight standing and on the ground. He will try to take me down, and I can also take him down. The fight is going to the ground. Cain will take me down, but I won’t give him my back. I’ll do a good guard, try submissions. I will always do something.”
Werdum has been on a roll as of late, and his Jiu-jitsu is light years above his opponents at heavyweight. However, it’s tough to say that Velasquez’ style is perfect for him (or anybody, for that matter), because the champ adapts so well in the cage. Velasquez is constantly mixing up his strikes and takedown attempts, and it’s arguable if Werdum can hang with him on the feet.
Still, Werdum’s Muay Thai game has improving by leaps and bounds in recent years; that could be what makes this fight so interesting. Add that to Velasquez recently obtaining his Brazilian Jiu-jitsu black belt, and we could have a closer fight than it would seem to be.
Werdum is looking to prevent Velasquez from breaking the record for most title defense at heavyweight. It’s a record not easily obtained, and Werdum has the utmost respect for his opponent. But Werdum still thinks the great Fedor Emelianenko, a man he submitted in 2010, is the great 265-pound fighter of all time:
“If Velasquez defeats me, he will break the record for most title defenses in the heavyweight history. Cain Velasquez is making history already. But, in my opinion, the best heavyweight of all-time is Fedor Emelianenko,” Werdum said. “Cain is on his way, but he won’t get there. I want to beat the best in the world. I have defeated Fedor and ‘Minotauro’ (Nogueira), and winning this title against Cain, who is considered one of the best of all-time, will be incredible.”