Werdum to challenge for belt

Mixed martial arts fighter Fabricio Werdum
Fabricio Werdum will likely get the next crack at Cain.
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Mike Chiappetta

Mike Chiappetta has documented the fast-growing sport of mixed martial arts since 2006 for news organizations including SB Nation, NBCSports.com, FIGHT! Magazine, AOL and ESPN. He appears regularly as an analyst on countless television shows and radio programs, including CBS Radio and MMA Beat. Follow him on Twitter.



Mixed martial arts is always looking towards the future. Who’s moving up the rankings, what fight might next be made and where the UFC is going are three favorite topics of speculation, even when there is some other story standing directly in the way.

Next month at UFC 166, Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos will meet for the third and perhaps final leg of their rivalry. That’s a big enough story in itself, but of course, some of us would like to know what the winner might have to look forward to, other than bragging rights and the UFC heavyweight championship belt.

It turns out the answer is Fabricio Werdum.

Fabricio Werdum

FORTALEZA, BRAZIL - JUNE 08: (L-R) Fabricio Werdum secures an arm bar submission against Antonio Rodrigo 'Minotauro' Nogueira in their heavyweight fight during the UFC on FUEL TV event at Paulo Sarasate Arena on June 8, 2013 in Fortaleza, Ceara, Brazil.

Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC

On Thursday, UFC president Dana White said the Brazilian is likely to wait and challenge the winner. That revelation comes just two days after the promotion confirmed that contenders Travis Browne and Josh Barnett would face each other in December, likely pushing them out of the conversation.

Werdum (17-5-1) is a perfect 3-0 in the octagon, though he’s only fought once in the last 14 months after being shelved for months to coach on The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil. That fight came in June, when he became only the second man to make Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira tap.

Besides beating Nogueira, Werdum’s UFC wins are over Roy Nelson (decision) and Mike Russow (TKO), though he also holds career wins over Antonio Silva and Fedor Emelianenko.

Werdum is currently No. 3 in the UFC contender rankings with only champ Velasquez, No. 1 dos Santos and No. 2 Daniel Cormier above him. Cormier, however, has steadfastly stated an intention on moving down to light-heavyweight following his next bout. That apparently leaves the 36-year-old Werdum facing the opportunity of a lifetime.


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