Fabricio Werdum Played it Safe in Effort to Secure UFC Heavyweight Title Shot

April 20, 2014
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Fabricio WerdumIt was a fight that was always meant to go the distance.

Fabricio Werdum beat Travis Browne for the better part of five rounds at UFC on FOX 11, and the Brazilian heavyweight thought ahead of time that taking Browne into deep water would be the way to come out on top.

There was a plan consisting of exploitation in the weeks leading into the UFC main event.

“It was part of my game plan to exploit his cardio situation,” Werdum revealed at the post-fight news conference on Saturday evening. “I knew going in it was going to be tough to submit him or anything of the type because he was such a tough opponent going into deeper rounds, and I knew even if I was going to try something, it would be a couple rounds to do it. So I decided cardio was going to be the way to beat him.”

Werdum showcased his striking against Browne, a direct result of long training sessions with former Chute Boxe coach Rafael Cordeiro. The sessions dedicated to preparation, Werdum said, were longer because this fight meant the winner would gain No. 1 contender status.

Training on certain days lasted six or seven hours, the fighter said. The extended training sessions fostered improvement.

“I improved my training,” Werdum explained. “I trained a lot for this fight because I know this is the step towards the title shot. I’m training every day. I never stop training. I’ve not fought for a long time. My last fight was with [Rodrigo] Nogueira in Brazil. I just [kept training] because I know my dream is the belt. When I [tell people] Tuesday and Thursday I train for six, seven hours, no one believes me. But I just showed in the cage today.”

UFC president Dana White said that he thought Werdum could have finished Browne. There were moments where the Brazilian had his American counterpart eating punches, but those strikes never materialized into finishing blows.

White said his heavyweight victor played it safe in order to ensure his No. 1 contender spot, and added that a broken rib suffered by Browne contributed to the win.

“He played a safe fight,” White proclaimed. “I think he could have finished Travis. They think he had a broken rib in the first round. That would explain it. He definitely has a broken hand.”

Werdum backed White’s claim that he played it safe, saying that he didn’t want to risk too much because he knew Browne had heavy hands that would perhaps steer the fight in the opposite direction.

It was worth it for a shot at gold, however.

“I did a smart game because I know this fight is very important for me, for my next step,” Werdum said. “I just did a smart fight, that’s it.”

And now Werdum moves on to meet heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez for the title at a venue and date to be announced for later this year. Much of the talk surrounding a fight between the two has centered around Mexico City being the location for the bout.

White didn’t confirm the Mexican capital would host the heavyweight title fight, although he has said the UFC won’t go to Mexico with Velasquez, and he wouldn’t commit to Velasquez and Werdum — a fluent Spanish speaker — being the TUF: Latin America coaches for the upcoming reality series. But White didn’t necessarily close the door on those option either.

“Anything is possible,” he said.

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  • I was hoping Browne would win but there was no way he’d beat Werdum with that cardio, set aside CAIN.

    Werdum deserved it fair and square, hopefully we’ll see something other than being pushed to the fence eating punches.

    Can’t wait for Velasquez vs Werdum.

    • deepgrim

      if browne had a broke rib that might explain why his cardio was so bad- but i suspect he hasnt trained hard enough and his fight average times is just over 5 minutes

      • In addition, I’m guessing it’s because he never had someone lay on him for a bit too.

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  • WhereIsHomefront2?

    “White didn’t confirm the Mexican capital would host the heavyweight title fight, although he has said the UFC won’t go to Mexico with Velasquez, and he wouldn’t commit to Velasquez and Werdum — a fluent Spanish speaker — being the TUF: Latin America coaches for the upcoming reality series.”

    How many things are wrong with this paragraph? Did you mean won’t go to Mexico WITHOUT Velasquez? He wouldn’t commit to “Velasquez and Werdum – A fluent Spanish speaker…” Velasquez or Werdum? Both speak Spanish? Only Velasquez?

    Writing 101. Now completely unnecessary for MMA journalism!

    • shakejunt

      werdum is fluent, probably has better spanish than cain.

  • guest

    What the hell? Werdum fought well, and won every round. Travis Browne is no chump.. he showed a great chin and always threatened with power. If Baldy wants to try to parlay that into an excuse of not giving Fabricio his rightful title shot, he can go to hell

  • shakejunt

    werdum looked good standing, kinda concerned that he couldn’t find a sub though. Cain won’t be any easier in that regard.

    • Aimed With “V”

      Well, you don’t really know how good Browne’s BJJ is. For what we know, it can be VERY good.

      Velasquez is a GREAT fighter, but BJJ is definitely not one of his strong points.
      Had he even had a decent body control from the back, he could’ve easily sink the RNC in the first rounds of both fights against JDS, probably would’ve finished Kongo and Lesnar with choke as well.

      • deepgrim

        he has a black belt, but he prefers to ground and pound than seek out submissions. i suspect that you would see more of his bjj should the fight hit the mat with cain, and that is a big if

    • julian moran

      I disagree. Cain will be more vulnerable to getting tapped as he likes to put pressure and hold his opponents.

      • Aimed With “V”

        One sure thing is, Werdum is going to be the best grappler Velasquez has ever faced.
        Velasquez beat great fighters, but he never actually engaged someone with good ground game – and it is quite crucial with his very grappling-related style of fighting.

        (I would, of course, have talked differently if Cain tested himself against the likes of Mir, or Barnett – or even had a chance to take the Nogueira fight to the ground, which, obviously, he didn’t need to do anyway.
        I know that Cain successfully beat guys that are ranked higher than those, but styles make fights)

  • Aimed With “V”

    Dana White shows sometimes serious incompetence.
    No one has dominated Travis Browne ever before (not Bigfoot, that’s for sure – we all saw what happened there) – and Werdum has made a great job, and his pace was right.

    Sometimes I get a feeling that Dana White’s remarks aim some really ignorant population of fans, who cannot appreciate the aspects of the sport/martial arts and are there for the “azz whoopin'”

    • P3ezy

      Apart from the whole getting ktfo part, overeem was fairly dominant in their fight. But other than that, couldn’t agree more

      • Aimed With “V”

        Well, by getting dominated I refer more to getting dominated…successfully?

        Overeem hurt hims with the barrage of body strikes and put him into trouble, but Browne did weather that storm. I doubt that Overeem has found some kind of a winning formula against Browne, and I doubt that if they meet again, Overeem would be able to win by the same strategy.

        Werdum, on the other hand, has got an upper hand everywhere in the fight, and did it convincingly during maximum time that the MMA fight can take place.

        • P3ezy

          Yeah successfully is a different story. But I do think if that kick didn’t land, browne would’ve been meat. In saying that, after seeing the the mir fight, I’m wondering if reem has come to terms with the fact that he has a relatively glass jaw for a heavyweight so don’t think he’d be so arrogant against browne if they ever fought again.

  • Daniel Vera

    Dana is right he definitely played it to safe, he could of finish Brown in several occasions if he thinks he can go the distance with Cain he is wrong, Cain has the best cardio in the game along with the wrestling it is gonna be a bloodbath in Mexico Good Bye Werdrum

    • Aimed With “V”

      Please tell me when exactly in the fight Werdum so definitely “could of finish” “Brown”.

      You claim it happened on the several occasions, so it certainly wouldn’t be hard for you to recall at least one example of it.

      • Daniel Vera

        Go watch the highlights first they will tell you when, I actually went to the event and you can see werdum didn’t commit to alot of his exchanges with brown when travis was only blocking in the 4th round

        • Aimed With “V”

          “Go watch the highlights”? Seriously?
          I watched the fight, and I don’t see any advantage in analyzing the fight from physically attending the event – either you’re looking at the big screen and see the same angle as those who watch from home, or you see the cage from relatively far distance and see LESS.

          I haven’t seen a single moment where I can THAT certainly claim, that Browne could easily be finished, and you claim it happened more than once.
          So either you’re able to prove it by describing any such moment and telling the time of its happening, or just admit that your claim is just baseless blabbering.

          • Lucas Freire

            It’s not that there were any moments where Browne could be easily finished but everytime he moved with a combination Browne gave no retalliation at all. Most of the times you could Werdum was the one pulling the guns back and dictating the pace of the fight.

            It’s not that he didn’t profit from any knockdown, it’s just that he could be much more relentless 90% of the time, as Browne was on a totally passive stance.
            On the other hand I understand why he would do it, he knows his gas tank.

          • Aimed With “V”

            “Passive” doesn’t necessarily mean “stunned”. Werdum applied some pretty long combos on Browne, but you don’t just go forever with the combos if you don’t see that they cause significant damage. Browne hasn’t been seriously hurt during the fight, even though he absorbed damage. In that case, you continue damaging the opponent, and that’s just what Werdum did.

            I think he fought a smart yet aggressive fight.
            It cannot be called “safe”, because actually he always was in the close distance for Browne to engage, that’s playing with fire BIG TIME, especially in the HW division, when one blow can finish it every time.

        • Fern

          Instead of “go watch the highlights” I would say “go fight Travis Brown” and see how easy it to finish off a giant like that.

      • deepgrim

        i think verdum held back the last 40 seconds of the 3rd, and parts of 4th and 5th. dont nessicary think that he could have finished browne in the 3rd, he may have or may have not, but he did give browne a chance to recover. by the end of the 5th browne seemed to be recovering his power a bit. But before this fight i felt cain could have beat both of these guys easily- now im not so sure

        • Fern

          He hit Brown with everything he had in kick combinations and punches in bunches and Brown was still standing and was barely wobbled. Werdum’s hands must have been hurting and I”m sure he was thinking its not worth breaking his hands and potentially being out for many months just to chop down that tree of a man he’s fighting. Besides, I’m pretty sure Brown would not have gone down unless Fabricio hit him another 27 times in a row. That is hard to do for any man.

          • deepgrim

            i dont think it was his hands hurting that was the problem- i think he was worried about gassing out trying to get the finish. he may or may not have finished him if he kept the pace up, but he definately held back bit as he knew the victory was wrapped up then

  • Mime

    safe? He was the more active fighter even in the later rounds plus he’s not a knockout fighter so how can anyone say he played it safe.

  • Fern

    Dude! Brown is a 6’7″ beast! Of course you need to play it safe when fighting a bear like him! I don’t understand what Dana is talking about. Its not like Fabricio was running around against a week stand up fighter. He was still trading shots with a giant animal of a man with massive knockout power in both his giant legs and hands in the 5th round!
    I think many people (including Dana) don’t appreciate how much work and dedication it takes to step into that cage and win. Its not a movie, Your not going to see people bloodied and unconscious every fight.

  • Shartnado2, the Sloppy One

    Playing it safe is when a wrestler smoothers the guy for 5 rounds *GSP* , Verdum out punched the puncher and he was out of his comfort zone as a BJJ guy. He earned his win, but if Dana wants to make sure guys try to finsih each other than he needs to change the scoring system because Dana will talk out of both sides of his mouth , “its all about the W” , “Dont ever leave it in the hands of the judges”

    • Hugh Shakeshaft

      My thoughts exactly. He may have played it safe, but it was not GSP safe. Not a minute of lay and pray. Besides that, I’ve never seen a fighter take 4 solid liver kicks in one fight. Brown’s durability is nuts! The man is built like a tank! Werdum vs. Cain will make for a more interesting fight after seeing Werdum’s varied skillset. I’d like to see Brown go against Jr.

      • Shartnado2, the Sloppy One

        I know JDS vs Cain 4 isnt going to happen but JDS is still the #2 guy in the division, above and beyond Werdum. Werdum will only win in a fluke, but I hope he does. Cain is still kind of a boring wrestler now too.

        • Hugh Shakeshaft

          While I agree Cain will beat Werdum, I cannot go along with the notion Cain is a boring wrestler. He put a savage beating on Jr. in the last two fights and his win over Bigfoot was a blood bath. I just wish he didn’t have so much down time due to injuries. He had a year off between Jr 1 and Jr 2, and now another year off. Dana’s got to make up a policy of injury timelines and title defense frequency. It’s a good thing at HW this is a non-issue because the division is cleaned out. As for lighter weight classes where studs are lined up, this could be a real problem.

  • Kyle Rayner

    Dana might cease mentioning whoever the winner is, will get a title shot, so that fighters won’t fight safe. The only other time fighters will do it FOR SURE, is if their jobs are on the line lol.

    • Shartnado2, the Sloppy One

      whats with the lol at the end

  • Shartnado2, the Sloppy One

    He won the first 3 rounds decisively which means he can phone it in for the next 2. Thats on the scoring system more than the fighters.

  • proofread

    “he UFC won’t go to Mexico with Velasquez”
    you mean ‘without’

    • proofread

      and I meant ‘the’ not ‘he.’

  • grisscoat

    Werdum fought a beautiful fight. Dana White is not giving him credit because, frankly, Browne-Velasquez is the fight he had designs on. If Browne had whipped Werdum in the manner that Werdum whipped Browne, I doubt White would’ve rushed to Werdum’s defense in the way he has defended Browne. And that pretty much says it all right there.