Fabricio Werdum’s status as one of the top heavyweights in the world remains.
“Vai Cavalo” defeated a game and tough Marcin Tybura by a fairly dominant unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 49-46) in the main event of UFC Sydney on Saturday in Australia. Werdum barely had to use his vaunted Brazilian jiu-jitsu, outlanding Tybura on the feet in just about every round.
While the Brazilian did rock Tybura multiple times, including in the fifth and final round, the Polish standout hung in the entire way. Only once did Werdum have a dominant position in the ground, in the the fourth, but Tybura managed to find his way back to the feet. Werdum’s solid Muay Thai — especially his knees — was the difference in the bout.
Afterward, Werdum, the former UFC heavyweight champion said he’s angling for a title shot next — and he could have a case.
Werdum (23-7-1) just fought five weeks ago, defeating Walt Harris by first-round submission at UFC 216 in Las Vegas. “Vai Cavalo” expected to fight Derrick Lewis on that card, but Lewis pulled out on the day of the card due to injury and Harris, who was already scheduled to compete on the night, filled in on ultra short notice.
Tybura (16-3), who came in ranked in the top 10, was on a three-fight winning streak with only one loss in the UFC. The JacksonWink MMA product defeated Andrei Arlovski by unanimous decision at UFC Singapore in June. Tybura, 32, landed multiple solid head kicks Saturday night on Werdum, but could not follow up and take advantage.
Earlier in the week, Werdum was charged with common assault by the New South Wales Police Force for throwing a boomerang at fellow fighter Colby Covington during an altercation outside the fighter hotel.
In the co-main event, Jessica-Rose Clark got a win in her UFC debut on just 11 days notice.
Clark beat Australian countrywoman Bec Rawlings by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) in a tight contest. The bout turned in Clark’s favor when she landed a big knee to the body in the second round, which took the wind out of Rawlings. Clark dominated the rest of the round and put Rawlings behind the 8-ball for the rest of the fight.
Clark (8-4), typically a bantamweight, has moved down to flyweight and trains at Syndicate MMA in Las Vegas. She’s won two straight and said afterward that she believes she’ll be even better with a full training camp. Clark, 29, did come in Friday two pounds overweight and said she had a bad weight cut.
Rawlings (7-7), making the move up from strawweight, was supposed to face Joanna Calderwood in this bout, but Calderwood withdrew about two weeks ago. Rawlings, 28, has lost three straight now after a two-fight winning streak.
Belal Muhammad picked up perhaps the best win of his career and then called out controversial welterweight Covington.
Muhammad defeated Tim Means via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) in a tight bout that was mostly kickboxing. Muhammad likely edged it out in the final half of the third around, landing the cleaner shots off 1-2 combinations.
Afterward, Muhammad called out Covington, who he called a “coward.” Covington has come under fire recently for trashing the country of Brazil and had an altercation with Werdum earlier in the week in Australia. Werdum was charged with assault for throwing a boomerang at Covington.
“If I see you on the streets, you’d be going to the ICU,” Muhammad told Dan Hardy.
Muhammad (13-2) has now won three straight and could be angling for a contender bout next. Means (27-9-1, 1 NC) has lost two of three.
Also on the main card, Jake Matthews bested Bojan Velickovic by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28), Alexander Volkanovski defeated Shane Young by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-26), Elias Theodorou beat Daniel Kelly via unanimous decision (30-28, 30-27, 30-26)
In the FS1 prelims feature fight, Ryan Benoit landed a massive head kick, knocking out Ashkan Mokhtarian at 2:38 of the third round. Benoit (10-5) had his issues early in the bout with Mokhtarian’s left hand, but managed to rebound, crediting his move to Las Vegas and Syndicate MMA. “Baby Face” has alternated wins and losses going back to 2012. Mokhtarian (13-3) has lost two straight to begin his UFC career.
Nik Lentz picked up the biggest win of his career against a former Bellator champ. Lentz cinched in a guillotine in the second round and got Will Brooks to tap at the 2:05 mark in a pivotal lightweight contest. Lentz (28-8-2) has now won three of four, while Brooks (18-4) has lost his last three and after winning his UFC debut last year.
Tui Taivasa started his UFC run off with a bang, knocking out Rashad Coulter with a flying knee at 4:35 of the first round. Taivasa (8-0), a training partner of Mark Hunt, has won all of his career fights by some form of knockout. Coulter (8-3) has started off his UFC career at 0-2.
In a bloody, back-and-forth and wildly entertaining battle, Frank Camacho bested Damien Brown by split decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28) to open the FS1 prelim card. Camacho (21-5) missed weight by four pounds Friday, but took home his first UFC win. Brown (17-11) has lost two straight.
On the Fight Pass prelims, Adam Wieczorek defeated Anthony Hamilton by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28), Eric Shelton dominated Jenel Lausa by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-25) and Nadia Kassem debuted in the UFC with a unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 29-27) victory over Alex Chambers.