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LAS VEGAS – With the UFC heavyweight title picture growing increasingly crowded, Fabricio Werdum believes he can get the next crack at champion Stipe Miocic with a win over Derrick Lewis at UFC 216.

Werdum (21-7-1 MMA, 9-4 UFC), who meets Lewis (18-5 MMA, 9-3 UFC) in the featured bout on UFC 216’s pay-per-view main card, which takes place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas following prelims on FX and UFC Fight Pass, is only two fights removed from losing the heavyweight belt to Miocic by first-round knockout at UFC 198 in May 2016.

Despite the fact he’s also coming off a loss to Alistair Overeem (43-15 MMA, 8-4 UFC), who is scheduled to fight Francis Ngannou (10-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) in a crucial contender bout at UFC 218 in December, Werdum believes he can slide into the No. 1 contender spot vs. Miocic (17-2 MMA, 11-2 UFC) with an impressive performance against Lewis.

“I deserve (a title shot),” Werdum told MMAjunkie at today’s UFC 216 media day. “Stipe (hasn’t fought) for a long time. I don’t know how long, but he don’t fight for a long time. I think all three. Me, Overeem and Francis can go for the title shot. I think maybe, maybe, if Derrick Lewis beats me (he can get one). But he doesn’t deserve it at this moment to go for the title shot.

“I think a good fight, a good submission, a good knockout, fans will say, ‘Werdum, you’re the next one.’ … I believe I should go for the title shot again.”

At 40, Werdum’s timeframe to regain heavyweight gold is seemingly shrinking with each passing day. He said he’s healthy and injury-free going into UFC 216, though, and intends to deliver a performance that shows exactly what he’s capable of.

Werdum, No. 3 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA heavyweight rankings, has never lost consecutive fights during his career, and after the setback against Overeem at UFC 213 in July, he wants to use No. 12-ranked Lewis as a platform to not only bounce back, but prove he should be the one fighting Miocic next.

“I want to beat Derrick Lewis,” Werdum said. “I respect him a lo,  because I know he’s a top fighter. He has a good punch, he has good kicks too. He’s in my way. My goal is the title shot again.”

For more on UFC 216, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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