Fabricio Werdum meets Derrick Lewis at Saturday's UFC 216 in Las Vegas, but that was not the promotion’s original plan for the Brazilian’s next fight.
“Vai Cavalo” was offered a Fight Night main event clash with Mark Hunt at UFC’s return to Australia on Nov. 19, but the former heavyweight champion turned down the opportunity.
"I’m tired of waiting too long between fights,” Werdum told MMA Fighting. "There’s no reason to wait. My last fight [vs. Alistair Overeem at UFC 213] tasted like a victory but the result was negative, so I wanted to fight again as soon as possible."
"I prefer to fight here in the United States instead of Australia because it’s too expensive to move my entire camp to a different country,” he continued. "People don’t realize that, but it’s too expensive. I spent $50,000 the first time I fought in Mexico, and $40,000 when I fought (Cain) Velasquez. That’s an important thing that no one pays attention.
"I’d have to go to Australia three weeks before the fight with my team to train and adapt, because there is a 12-hour difference. There are a lot of negative things to consider. If I have the possibility of fighting closer to where I live, I’ll prefer that. I like fighting in Las Vegas.”
Lewis recently told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour that Werdum picked him instead of Hunt because he considers him an easier opponent, but "Vai Cavalo" says that is inaccurate.
"I can fight Mark Hunt, Velasquez, Brock Lesnar or anyone else in Las Vegas,” Werdum said. "I care about where I’m fighting, not who I’m fighting. What (Lewis) said is bullsh*t. He’s as dangerous as Mark Hunt. Any punch can end a fight, so there’s no easy fight."
If everything goes right against Lewis, Werdum wants to get back inside the Octagon one more time in December, and then fight three times in 2018.
"I have no time to waste," said the Kings MMA heavyweight, who believes he will be back in title contention with one solid victory. "I see myself in a good position right now, in the top-five of the division. The Overeem fight was controversial. I filed an appeal but got no answer yet. They made a mistake, and mistakes happen. But I see myself one step away from fighting for the belt again.
"That’s how it works in the heavyweight division: if you put on a good fight, a good knockout or a good submission, that gets you right into a title fight again. I have no doubt about it. There aren’t many people there to fight for the belt. They didn’t give Overeem a title shot because he doesn’t deserve one. I see myself fighting for the belt again with one good win."