"Vai Cavalo", who expects to put his title on the line against Cain Velasquez early next year, told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour that he expects "The Last Emperor" to compete in Japan for the next two or three years.
"I think it’s very hard," Werdum said when asked about a possible rematch with Emelianenko in the UFC. "In Japan, the Japanese guys are very smart, maybe they sign with him for two, three years, I don’t know. I think it’s very hard to fight in the UFC. A lot of fans want to watch him fight there, you know, but I don’t know it will happen now."
Emelianenko lost to Werdum in 2010, and suffered two other losses to Antonio Silva and Dan Henderson next in Strikeforce. He returned to Russia later in 2011, beating Jeff Monson to start a three-fight winning streak over Satoshi Isshi and Pedro Rizzo.
After taking a three-year break from mixed martial arts, Emelianenko announced his return to the sport under Nobuyuki Sakakibara’s new promotion Rizin Fighting Federation on Dec. 31, and Werdum believes he won’t leave the promotion anytime soon.
"He deserved a fight in the UFC, for sure, but I think maybe in Japan… Hey man, (they) love him in Japan," he said. "The big show coming up now in December in Japan, I think it’s a huge show. For sure, I (said) before in one interview (that) I like Fedor in the UFC, rematch with me, for sure, 100 percent. Maybe one fight in the UFC, the second one fight with me. I have a lot of respect for Fedor."
Werdum believes American fans stopped following "The Last Emperor" following his 1-3 run in Strikeforce. However, "Vai Cavalo" expects Emelianenko to show his dominance in his upcoming fight in Japan.
"Maybe the guys forgot Fedor very fast," Werdum said. "Fedor stopped fighting because he needed this rest too. I needed rest to but maybe two months I’m good again, but Fedor has a lot of pressure with him. He lost (to) me in 2010, a lot of pressure. And then he lost again, he lost again, is no good. He needed rest. He rested like two or three years, I think he (will) come back very strong now. I say for the fans to respect Fedor because he’s a legend of the sport."