Seven years after his first fight in the UFC, Fabricio Werdum will finally fight for the heavyweight championship.
Werdum will coach the first season of The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America opposite of UFC champion Cain Velasquez, and the championship bout is set for Nov. 15 in Mexico City, Mexico. Unbeaten since his return to the Octagon with four wins, Werdum proved in his last bout, against Travis Browne, that he can go five rounds.
"I don’t think it was an easy win," Werdum told MMAFighting.com. "I trained a lot because I knew how important a win would be for my career. I beat him not only standing but also on the ground and with the wrestling. I showed that I’m prepared to fight for five rounds."
Werdum was the underdog and many people thought his only chance at winning would be on the ground, but he dominated Browne in every aspect of the fight at UFC on FOX 11.
"I was impressed with the combinations I was able to do in the fight," he said. "One, two, uppercut and kicks. He was trying to finish me with one punch, but I was hurting him with my combinations. It was a great fight, I’m really happy with my performance, but I will watch the fight again to see what we did wrong and fix it for my next fight."
"Rafael Cordeiro is fundamental in my training," he said. "I moved to the United States for two reasons: to train with the best coach in the world, Rafael Cordeiro, and be able to train and live with my family, something that I couldn’t do back in Brazil. It was the best decision I ever made in my life and career. Rafael Cordeiro changed me as a fighter, you can notice that."
Cordeiro will be part of Werdum’s camp for Velasquez, and he foresees a complicated match-up at UFC 180.
"He has a good stand up, a complicated game with boxing, muay thai and wrestling," Werdum said. "He hits hard and has good takedowns. It’s hard to stop a fighter like that. My physical condition is going to be really important in this fight."
Six months away from the title fight, Werdum has yet to set a strategy, but one thing he wants to do is put the champion on his back.
"I will move a lot and avoid the clinch close to the fence," he said. "If he takes me down, I have to go for submissions with armbars, triangles and omoplatas or sweep him. A sweep would be important because we never saw how Velasquez fights with his back on the ground. He would have two options, give his back while trying to get back up or work his guard. Anything can happen, but we are still thinking about the strategy."
"I believe he will try to do what he usually does," Werdum continued. "He will move forward and put me close to the fence and take me down to get on top. I don’t know if he will try to do some ground and pound or just score points and get back up.
"He’s really good, but I will do my best to break his game. I will get there with the right strategy to win, but I would love to get the knockout or a submission."
Velasquez still has to be cleared by the doctors to return to the Octagon, but the Brazilian is confident that he will be 100 percent by November.
"Cain Velasquez hasn’t fought in a while," he said. "The fight is scheduled for Nov. 15, so it’s seven months from now. I think he will be ready to fight. I told him I’m okay with fighting him if he’s not 100 percent. I don’t care [laughs]. But I think he will be ready by November. I think he really wants to fight in Mexico so he will do his best to fight there."
If the champion can’t put his title on the line at UFC 180, Werdum thinks he should fight for an interim belt.
"It has to happen, right?" he said. "If he can’t fight, they should do an interim title. It would be cool, but I don’t want an interim title, I want to fight Velasquez. It’s a dream of mine to fight for the title especially against a guy like Cain Velasquez because I know it’s going to be a big challenge."