Fabricio Werdum Dethrones Top Heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Almost every underdog swears he's going to shock the world. At the HP Pavilion on Saturday night, Fabricio Werdum actually did it.

The former jiu-jitsu world champion rebounded from early trouble against MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko in the Strikeforce main event to secure a first-round submission victory over the Russian who has dominated the heavyweight rankings, pulling off an improbable upset in front of a crowd of 12,698 shocked fans.

"This is the happiest day of my life," said Werdum, who continued to call Emelianenko the greatest heavyweight in the world even after the win. "I waited for this fight my whole life."

Things looked grim for the Brazilian in the opening seconds as he was dropped in the first significant striking exchange of the bout. Sensing a finish, Emelianenko pounced on his downed opponent with an aggressive ground-and-pound attack, but his eagerness may have gotten the best of him, as he punched his way into an armbar, followed by a triangle choke that he was unable to extricate himself from.





"The one who doesn't fall, doesn't stand up," Emelianenko said after tapping out just 1:09 into the first round.

While he admitted that he got a little too focused on trying to put Werdum away with his striking, Emelianenko was as stoic and cryptic as ever when confronting the first true defeat of his career and what it might mean for his status as a legend of the sport.

"I was made into a kind of an idol," Emelianenko said in the post-fight press conference, where he showed up sporting light bruises around his eyes. "I'm a normal human being as all of us, and if it is God's will, the next fight I will win."

Werdum said he would be willing to grant Emelianenko an immediate rematch, or meet current Strikeforce heavyweight champ Alistair Overeem, who he beat in 2006, for the Strikeforce title.

"This man is the boss," Werdum said, motioning at Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker, who remained non-committal about who Werdum would face next.


In the women's 145-pound title bout, fellow Brazilian Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos proved why she came into the bout as the heaviest favorite of the night, battering challenger Jan Finney for two rounds until referee Kim Winslow finally halted the bout at 2:56 of round two.

Though Santos was docked a point for punches to the back of the head in the first round, there was never a moment when she wasn't in total control of the fight, overwhelming Finney with her striking assault and dropping her several times throughout the first two rounds.

Finney proved herself a game and eager opponent, willingly throwing herself into stand-up exchanges at every opportunity. Still, the fight seemed to go on longer than it needed to, as several times Finney found herself turtled up on the mat, offering no intelligent response to Santos' ground-and-pound.

In middleweight action, hometown favorite Cung Le avenged his loss to Scott Smith, dropping him twice with spinning back kicks to the midsection in the second round, finally finishing off his wounded opponent with a series of carefully placed punches at 1:46 of Round 2.

"I fought smart, let him come in, and he came into the power and he got caught," Le said. "Last time was his night, this time was my night."

Finally, Josh Thomson needed longer than many expected to dispatch fellow lightweight Pat Healy, but after two back-and-forth rounds he finally secured a rear-naked choke submission at 4:27 of Round 3.

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