by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
While much of the attention surrounding Strikeforce’s heavyweight division was focused on the promotional debut of Fedor Emelianenko this past weekend, there’s no denying that he’s not the only story there.
Fabricio Werdum is quickly making a case for himself in the same division.
Wins over Mike Kyle and most recently Antonio “Big Foot” Silva on the undercard of CBS’s “Fedor vs. Rogers” have Werdum near the top of the Strikeforce ladder.
Recently when contacted by MMAWeekly.com, Werdum talked about his win over Silva, going after the Strikeforce heavyweight title and his goals for 2010.
“Silva’s size did not factor into training for the fight,” said Werdum of his preparations to face the former super heavyweight. “I am taller; he is heavier. He had a slight advantage on his feet, me a slight advantage on the ground; it all balances out.”
When asked how he was able to withstand Silva’s notoriously strong punching power, the sometimes aloof Werdum responded jokingly, “In the first round I was able to neutralize his striking by blocking his punches with my face.
“After recovering from his ground and pound I was able to start getting into my rhythm and get accustomed to his reach advantage and work both standing and from the ground from a more inside position.”
While the ground may have initially favored Silva’s size, Werdum was able to adapt and ultimately control the action there by remaining calm.
“(I) felt great on the ground as I normally do,” stated Werdum. “People forget that Antonio is a BJJ black belt, not to mention very strong, so I was trying to be patient and not immediately go for submissions and try to work my ground and pound a little bit.”
Werdum’s win over Silva now has him knocking at the door of Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem.
The two were supposed to fight earlier this year, but Overeem claimed injuries sustained in a bar fight prevented him from making the match. Since then Overeem has participated in Dream and is slated to be part of K-1’s World Grand Prix finals in early December.
In regards to facing Overeem, Werdum claims it’s not the man he’s after, but rather the title he holds.
“I do not think Alistair is ducking me, (but) I think that Alistair is ducking fighting in the United States,” stated Werdum. “(However,) Alistair does not choose his fights, his management does.
“I already beat Alistair, so I am not terribly interested in fighting him again. He does hold the belt, and I want the belt, so unless he gives it up, I am (only) interested in fighting him for that reason.”
While Overeem may not be in Werdum’s immediate future, he did comment on others who might be.
“Of course I want to fight Fedor, but rumor is that he screwed up his hand pretty good and I don’t know when he would be able to fight again,” admitted Werdum. “I prefer to stay active so if there is a fight before Fedor I am okay with that too.
“If I had a chance to fight someone that I fought before, it would be (Andrei) Arlovski. I don’t know if Arlovski would fight though, because I think he is just interested in being on TV and showing his arrogant face.”
Having won the ADCC World Submission Championships for as second time, in addition to opening his own BJJ academy in Venice, Calif., Werdum has put himself back on the right track and has left his past firmly behind him, and he is excited for his future.
“I am very fortunate that my career is where it is,” said Werdum. “I feel great about my two fights so far in Strikeforce/M-1 and hope that they feel the same. The UFC is the past. My future is Strikeforce/M-1.
“My goal is to remain healthy and happy and to be able to train and always stay ready since the best opportunities come at the last minute. I would like to fight as much as possible in both MMA and submission grappling and to build my academy and student base both here and throughout Europe.”
Fully rejuvenated, a jovial Werdum closed out the interview by saying, “First and foremost, I would like to thank my wife Karine and my young daughter Julia and the rest of my family. Without them, I couldn’t do what I do. Words cannot express the gratitude that I have for my fans and fans of MMA because without the fans, there would be no butts in seats and without butts in seats, promoters can’t put on fights.
“I would like to also thank my head coach, friend, and mentor Rafael Cordeiro of Kings Muay Thai, Cleber Luciano, and my business manager/attorney Richard Wilner. I would like to thank all my sponsors: Affliction, Full Tilt Poker, Polanti Watches, RevGear and Kimura Wear and Synergy Physical Therapy. And last but not least, I would like to personally thank my fashion consultant Tom Atencio because his keen eye for color coordination makes me that much more comfortable when I walk into the cage. Thanks also to you guys at MMAWeekly.com.”