Fabricio Werdum could soon join the hunt for the UFC heavyweight
title. | File Photo: Sherdog.com
Following 50 days of taping for “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 2,”
Werdum returned to Los Angeles to begin preparing for his
highly anticipated rematch with Antonio
Rodrigo Nogueira in the
UFC on Fuel TV 10 main event on June 8 at the Paulo Sarasate
Gymnasium in Fortaleza, Brazil.
Nogueira defeated Werdum by unanimous decision under the
Pride Fighting Championships banner in July 2006. The two
heavyweights are coaching opposite one another on the reality
“You know, ‘Minotauro’ only has entertaining fights, and they are
always marked by his resilience,” Werdum told Sherdog.com, “so I’m
training hard to avoid it this time and come out with the
Though his focus remains planted on Nogueira, Werdum will keep an
eye on a pair of high-stakes UFC
160 matchups that will help shape the landscape at the top of
the heavyweight division: Cain
Velasquez vs. Antonio
Silva and Junior dos
Santos vs. Mark Hunt.
“I strongly believe in ‘Bigfoot’ in this rematch against
Velasquez,” Werdum said. “He has evolved as a fighter since their
first fight [at UFC 146]. By following the right strategy and not
being worried about just takedowns, like he was the first time, he
has every chance to knock out Velasquez. I fought [Silva], and I
know the weight of that giant hand. That juggernaut coming at you
... I think he’ll win. I’m hoping for that. ‘Bigfoot’ is now a
Werdum also stands behind dos Santos, a man with whom he has traded
public barbs in the past. Dos Santos knocked out Werdum at UFC 90
in October 2008, and “Vai Cavalo” has done nothing to hide his
desire for a rematch. Still, he finds himself pulling for his
countryman against the resurgent Hunt.
“I’m rooting for ‘Cinago,’” Werdum said. “I believe he will win,
but you have to respect Hunt. He lures you into range and hits you,
and he’s beaten several big names from K-1. I believe in ‘Cigano’s’
hands, but if I was his coach, I would advise him to go for the
A victory over the beloved Nogueira could conceivably vault Werdum
into position as the number one contender for the
Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight crown, though the
two-time Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World
Championships gold medalist believes chances of an immediate crack
at the title remain remote.
“Looking at the UFC schedule, I think it’s unlikely,” said Werdum,
who has forged an alliance with Fabio Gurgel,
one of his coaches on “The Ultimate Fighter” series. “‘Bigfoot,’
Cain and dos Santos fight on May 25, and I fight on June 8. I think
whoever is champion will have to fight one more time before I have
a right to a title shot -- if I win.
“Right now, I’m focused on my fight with Rodrigo, who’s a tough
opponent,” he added. “If I beat him and need to fight another fight
before a title shot, no problem.”
Werdum enjoyed his time on “The Ultimate Fighter,” watching fellow
Brazilians vie for a spot in the UFC.
“I can only say you will see great fights from new fighters with
great skills,” he said, “and you will laugh more than you did
during the first season.”
Coaching opposite Nogueira gave Werdum a deeper respect for the
revered former Pride champion.
“I’ve heard people talk about how great a person ‘Minotauro’ is,
but over these 50 days, I had the opportunity to get to know him,”
he said. “Guys like him just don’t exist. One day, I was backstage
suffering with hip pain, and he offered me his physiotherapist.
What do you say about a guy like that?”