Fabricio Werdum will find himself in a familiar position at UFC 180 in November. He'll be facing another opponent who seemingly has no weakness and will be the underdog to UFC champion Cain Velasquez, but the Brazilian knows what it takes to shock the world.
Werdum shocked the MMA world in 2010 as he defeated the greatest heavyweight—and some believe greatest MMA fighter overall—Fedor Emelianenko by submission in the first round. Werdum's coach, Rafael Cordeiro, speaking to MMAFighting.com, believes history will repeat itself at UFC 180.
(Velasquez) is a good match-up for us. ‘Cigano’ has a completely different style. ‘Cigano’ is a boxer, but Werdum is a more complete fighter. He has a world-class jiu-jitsu, a good muay Thai. It’s a dangerous match-up for Cain Velasquez. I’m not saying ‘Cigano’ is not good, but I think that Velasquez’s style is better for Werdum.
Indeed, Werdum presents an entirely different style than the one presented by the aforementioned Junior dos Santos. Werdum's grappling skills have always been known as his greatest strength, and he is without a doubt one of the better grapplers in MMA.
But lately, Werdum has showcased another wrinkle to his MMA game: his striking skills.
Werdum's coming-out party as a legit heavyweight contender came courtesy of his UFC 143 clash with Roy Nelson. The Brazilian showed off his new muay thai striking ability and put a beating on Nelson. Werdum added another KO to his credit against Mike Russow along with tapping out the legendary Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira before putting on perhaps the best performance of his career.
At the UFC on Fox 11 event, Werdum showed a complete game as he dominated Travis Browne from bell to bell. The performance cemented Werdum's place as the top contender and ensured the Brazilian of a title shot down the road.
On paper, it would seem Velasquez's greatest strengths play directly into Werdum's strength. Velasquez is known for his grinding, wrestling-based strategy, which would give Werdum the chance to utilize his jiu-jitsu skills.
If Velasquez chooses to employ a similar game plan to the one he used against Dos Santos (clinch and put his opponent on the fence), he will again run into one of Werdum's strengths, as the Brazilian has shown the ability to utilize the clinch in traditional muay thai fashion with vicious knees and elbows.
Velasquez could choose to strike at range but has shown to be vulnerable at that distance in his fight with Cheick Kongo.
I believe the fight will head to the ground at some point, which is where the interesting chess match will begin. Can Werdum handle the strength and pressure of Velasquez's constant offense, or can the Brazilian pull off another monumental upset?
Those are just a few of the questions that will highlight the intrigue heading into UFC 180 later this year.