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Fabricio Werdum: Mark Hunt said ‘stop, stop, stop’ after the flying knee

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Grappling wizard Fabricio Werdum knocked out K-1 champion Mark Hunt to win the UFC interim heavyweight championship in Mexico at UFC 180 on Nov. 15, and the flying knee that ended the bout was one of "Vai Cavalo’s" secret weapons for Hunt.

"Everything was planned and trained," Werdum told "Master Rafael Cordeiro taught me move that one day. I asked him ‘master, can I do this in the fight?’ And he said ‘you must do this in the fight.’

"Mark Hunt knew I was going to try to take him down, and I was shooting for ankle picks to avoid his uppercuts. I tried it once and twice, and he thought I would try one more time, so I threw the knee. He was expecting the takedown and was ready to throw the uppercut, when he realized I threw the knee it was too late for him to cover up."

Going for ankle picks instead of more traditional takedowns was a strategy to stay away from Hunt’s knockout power.

"I was doing a lot of takedown defense for Velasquez, and I had to change it to shoot for takedowns instead when they changed my opponent," Werdum said. "(Kelvin) Gastelum was training there with us, Orlando (Sanchez) and a lot of great coaches, so I started working on ankle picks, Sakuraba style, to avoid Hunt’s uppercuts. I knew he would be waiting for that."

According to the Brazilian, Hunt gave up as soon as he landed the knee.

"When I landed the knee, it was great. The arena was sold out, 24 thousand fans screaming, and I knew he was hurt," he said. "He asked (the referee) to stop the fight as soon as he went down. He said ‘stop, stop, stop,’ but the referee didn’t hear. Everything happened so fast. The referee didn’t hear that, so I kept punching until he ended the fight."

The championship win didn’t come easy, though. Hunt dropped Werdum twice in the bout, and the Brazilian wasn’t able to do much when he had "Super Samoan" in his guard. However, according to "Vai Cavalo," it looked worse from the outside.

"He landed the first punch and I went down, but I don’t think it was a knockdown because I wasn’t hurt at all," Werdum said. "I didn’t feel dizzy. I just felt the impact and went down. I went back up right away. I never thought for a moment I was going to lose. The second time he caught me, same thing. He waited for the right moment to counter my kicks, but I wasn’t hurt. I tried to pull guard, but he ran away, so I went back up again."

"I wanted to work for triangles, armbars and kimuras, but I was so close to the fence I had no space," he continued. "He did the right thing to avoid my submissions, but that ended up being perfect because I felt him getting tired by keeping me close to the fence. I trained that position a lot with (Rubens Charles) ‘Cobrinha’, and (Hunt) couldn’t hit me there. He wasn’t comfortable either."

Leading up to his UFC 180 fight, Werdum told Ariel Helwani he would only be able to compare wining the UFC championship to tapping Fedor Emelianenko after the fight. Now that both fights are in the past, which one was the best?

"This fight was very special, winning a title like that, and I still want to fight Velasquez next, but Fedor was unique," Werdum said. "The big question was ‘who beat Fedor?’, so we say both are really important to me."

Werdum now looks to unify the heavyweight title against Cain Velasquez in 2015, and he expects to face the AKA star at UFC 188.

"I believe it’s going to be June 13 in Mexico," he said. "It’s a good date. I will have time to rest. I hope he recovers in time to do this fight. We have to fight. He’s the champion, I’m the interim champion. We have to fight."

Most of the UFC interim heavyweight champions failed to win when trying to unify belts, and that’s one of the reasons why many fans don’t see interim titleholders as real champions. "Vai Cavalo" isn’t bothered.

"Many people talk about it, but it’s normal," Werdum said. "I was ready to fight Velasquez, Hunt or anybody else they wanted. I was there. If the champion can’t fight because of an injury, it’s not my fault. It happens in this sport. It’s normal. But I feel I’m the champion, of course."