The heavyweight division has a reputation for being a place of strange stories among MMA fans.
Let’s face it, when two huge dudes get in there and trade fists, there’s always going to be an element of unpredictability. Anyone who has put some of their hard earned space bucks on-the-line can attest to that fact (we’re not the only ones out there, come on now).
We’ve seen an awful lot of career resurrections in the UFC’s heavyweight division: Mark Hunt, Andrei Arlovski (recent losses notwithstanding) and Ben Rothwell are a few names that quickly come to mind. One man stands above the pack however, as Fabricio Werdum entered the UFC with some acclaim for his history in Pride FC (#PrideNeverDie) only to sputter to a 2-2 record before departing the UFC after some failed contract negotiations.
Famously, this was the case for another alleged goat, this time of the Quebecois persuasion, Georges St-Pierre. For Werdum, this learning experience came in the form of a humiliating defeat at the hands of current #1 contender Alistair Overeem during the organizations Heavyweight Grand Prix.
Werdum doesn’t hide any negative feelings about his performance that night. Speaking with MMAJunkie he described his own performance as “horrible” and suggested that his repeated flopping to his back was “his way out” when he was simply too exhausted to continue striking.
Not only has Werdum’s striking been, to borrow from Mike Goldberg, ever-improving, but he also spoke of learning to be a smarter fighter with how he trains and prepares for his fights. Look no further than the performance that brought him UFC gold against Cain Velasquez in Mexico, where Werdum was widely applauded for his decision to spend a significant amount of time in the country, adjusting to the elevation that seemed to plague Velasquez.
The pressure on “Vai Cavalo” this weekend at UFC 198 will be immense. The heavyweight title always commands a certain level of attention and respect, combined with the magnitude of the UFC’s first stadium show in Brazil and we’re all in for a treat this weekend.
These aren’t the only factors Werdum has to contend with, as another win and a defence of his title moves him another step closer to ‘all-time great’ status (at the very least, in the heavyweight division) and arguably most intriguing, a chance at redemption for his performance against Overeem.
Standing in Werdum’s way is Stipe Miocic. The man who has just 2 losses on his MMA record, and apparently can only lose Fight of the Night performances. He’s a big, he’s well-rounded and he’s going to try to beat Werdum up on the feet. The simple question of this fight comes down to whether Miocic can actually out-strike Werdum like he thinks.
If he can’t, he’ll be in for a world of trouble. Our prediction is exactly that, as Werdum hangs with Miocic on the feet, before he mixes it up and ends the fight with his legendary jiu-jitsu.