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Fabricio Werdum not so sure Alistair Overeem-Francis Ngannou winner deserves UFC title shot


SYDNEY – The prevailing notion is that the winner of next month’s UFC 218 showdown between Alistair Overeem and Francis Ngannou will be at the front of the line for a shot at Stipe Miocic’s heavyweight championship.

Fabricio Werdum, however, sees things differently.

“I think I deserve it,” Werdum on Wednesday told MMAjunkie in Sydney.

When Werdum (22-7-1 MMA, 10-4 UFC) says he deserves it, of course, that’s assuming he defeats Marcin Tybura (16-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) in the FS1-televised main event of UFC Fight Night 121 on Saturday at Qudos Bank Arena. Prelims air on FS1 followed by early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Since May of last year, when he lost the title to Miocic, Werdum has alternated losses and wins, and that includes dropping a majority decision to Overeem in July at UFC 213. Most recently, though, Werdum easily dispatched Walt Harris last month, submitting him in 65 seconds at UFC 216.

As impressive as it was, the win over Harris didn’t do Werdum any favors the way a win over Derrick Lewis – who withdrew the day of the fight – would have. But for Werdum, his case as to why he’s deserving of the title shot with a win over Tybura doesn’t come down to just one performance.

“It’s not just about my last fight,” said Werdum, who’s ranked No. 2 in the official UFC rankings. “I think about everything in my career – 20 years of history. I don’t know. I’m just waiting.”

Ngannou (10-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC), officially ranked No. 4, recently told MMAjunkie Radio that he believes a win against No. 1 Overeem (43-15 MMA, 8-4 UFC) definitely will earn him the next title shot, a claim that Werdum is likely to take issue with considering “The Predator’s” relative inexperience. The 40-year-old Werdum is making his 15th UFC appearance on Saturday. Overeem has five fights with the promotion under his belt.

Werdum, it seems, would have an easier time accepting getting passed over for Overeem than he would Ngannou.

“I think I deserve it. Overeem is there, too. I don’t know about Francis being there to fight for a title shot yet,” Werdum said. “I don’t know. I respect him, too. But I think he’s not (ready). Maybe Overeem, yes. But I’m waiting, too.”

All of this become a moot point if Werdum can’t get the job done against Tybura. Werdum has more to lose by facing the eighth-ranked Polish fighter, but Werdum said he isn’t feeling any pressure.

“Zero pressure. I don’t have pressure,” Werdum said. “The pressure comes from training – if you have an injury, different things. But this time I’m good. No injuries. I’m 40, but my mind is 28. Everything is good. I’ve been waiting for this fight. …

“My goal is the belt. It doesn’t matter who has the belt around his waste. My goal is the belt. It doesn’t matter if it’s Miocic or Overeem or other guys. That’s it. This is my big goal.”

For more on UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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