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Fabricio Werdum welcomes ‘risk’ of fighting Alexander Volkov, volunteers as backup plan for Miocic vs. Cormier

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UFC 198 Media Day
Fabricio Werdum wants another quick turnaround after UFC London.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Fabricio Werdum won’t waste any time.

The former UFC heavyweight champion accepted another fight on short notice for his matchup against Alexander Volkov in the main event of UFC London on March 17, and he plans on getting one fight after another until he’s given another shot at the belt.

Fighting for the fourth time in eight months and coming off wins over Walt Harris and Marcin Tybura, “Vai Cavalo” says he didn’t think twice about accepting the Volkov fight because he feels ready to get the job done again — and especially because heavyweight kingpin Stipe Miocic is already scheduled to face Daniel Cormier at UFC 226 in July.

”I know I’m ready, and I want to fight as many times as possible,” Werdum told MMA Fighting. “I don’t want to be obsessed with the belt. I want the belt, of course, but I don’t want to think about it and stop fighting.

“If Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier are fighting on July 7, how long am I going to wait? I’d rather stay active, fighting. Is it a risk? It is a risk, of course, but if I were afraid of taking risks I wouldn’t even fight. I’m happy to be fighting in London.”

Werdum said he will stop taking short-notice fights once the UFC guarantees that he’s next for the title, but he knows that he won’t get his shot until at least the end of the year. With Miocic vs. Cormier scheduled for July 7 in Las Vegas, “Vai Cavalo” plans on beating Volkov and getting back into the gym for another training camp.

”I don’t know what will happen next, but I’m fighting Volkov now, so maybe I’ll fight again on that same card on July 7?” Werdum said. “Nothing is set, but let’s get past this fight with Volkov first and then think about that.”

Fighting at UFC 226 would not only put him in the same night of the heavyweight championship bout, but would also allow Werdum to become a backup plan in case either Miocic or Cormier are forced out of the card due to injuries.

”I don’t want anyone to get injured, I wish no one any harm, but that can happen,” Werdum said. “I will be prepared in case something shows up. I’ve showed the UFC that I have no problem accepting last-minute fights.

”I will show for the third time that I’m the best in the world. It’s just a matter of opportunity. When people ask me if I’m the greatest heavyweight of all-time, I don’t like to say that, I leave that for the fans to respond, but I believe I’m the best in the world.”

The 40-year-old Brazilian is focused on becoming UFC champion again, but won’t look past Volkov. A former champion in Bellator and M-1 Global, “Drago” is 11 years younger than “Vai Cavalo” and is 3-0 since joining the UFC in 2016.

”Every heavyweight fight is complicated,” Werdum said. “His striking is better than his ground game, but at the same time I can’t underestimate him anywhere. That word, ‘underestimate,’ doesn’t exist at heavyweight. That’s how I feel. You have to be alert at all times because things can get complicated at any moment.

“A small detail can change everything in the fight.”

Both Werdum and Volkov have experience preparing for five-round bouts, and “Vai Cavalo” has gone the distance in two 25-minute matches.

That, Werdum says, is one of his advantages over most of the heavyweights in MMA.

“I prefer five rounds instead of three because I grow as time gets by,” Werdum said. “I would fight 10 rounds if it was possible, no problem. I think that’s how jiu-jitsu fighters think, we kind of save the energy to use it at the right time. Fights had no time-limit back in the Gracie era.

“If I could fight with no time-limit, until someone finishes or gives up, I’d prefer that. But five rounds is fine.”