Despite Werdum’s dominance, it’s hard to see him — or anyone else — beating Velasquez
Fabricio Werdum just became the No. 1 contender to the UFC heavyweight title. He might have done it in Orlando, but his reward sure isn’t going to be a trip to Disney World.
As good as Werdum looked in a unanimous decision domination of Browne (and he might have looked as good as we’ve ever seen him) at FOX UFC Saturday in Orlando, his next opponent is on a whole different level. Nothing Werdum did against Browne makes me think he’ll have the gas tank or skill level to hang with Cain Velasquez.
Browne is a nice heavyweight, one of the top five or so in the world. He’s not in the same realm as Cain Velasquez. No one is. Not Junior dos Santos. Not Stipe Miocic. And not Werdum, either.
"He’s a different type of heavyweight," UFC president Dana White said of Velasquez. "He goes at a speed that other heavyweights can’t go. He can go five rounds and never stops."
Take nothing away from Werdum. His story is a great one and not unlike another guy who recently fought for a UFC title: Robbie Lawler. Werdum was written off after losing to a nobody named Junior dos Santos in 2008. Of course, knowing what we know now about dos Santos, maybe the UFC should have given Werdum another shot. But the organization cut him and he was signed by Strikeforce.
He’s a different type of heavyweight. He goes at a speed that other heavyweights can’t go.
-Dana White on Cain Velasquez
Once there, he became part of MMA lore, ending the 10-year winning streak of Fedor Emelianenko. It was one of the biggest upsets in the history of the sport and a victory Werdum puts up there as one of his life’s greatest moments, along with the birth of his daughter.
The Brazilian wants to add a UFC title to that list, defend it a couple of times and then ride off into the sunset as an analyst for the UFC Network in Latin America. But that’s going to be a very difficult proposition.
Werdum’s standup game has improved immensely under the tutelage of Rafael Cordeiro and his Brazilian jiu-jitsu has always been world class for a heavyweight — for any division, really. People thought coming into this fight Saturday that Browne had the advantage on the feet. Hardly. Werdum outclassed him after an early Browne barrage in the first round.
"I just proved my standup, too," Werdum said. "People say, ‘Oh Werdum is just a jiu-jitsu guy."
The question remains, though, what is his path to victory against Velasquez? Is he going to somehow hurt him standing up, because dos Santos, a better striker with more power, could not. Can he submit him off his back? There’s nothing that makes you think Velasquez will pull a Fedor and jump haphazardly into Werdum’s guard.
There is a chance Velasquez won’t be in top form. He hasn’t fought since beating dos Santos in October. When he does get back into the Octagon after recovering from shoulder surgery, perhaps sometime in November, it will have been more than a year since his last bout.
It’s just hard to believe the best version of Velasquez would lose to Werdum. Honestly, it’s hard to believe there’s a heavyweight alive who can really give Velasquez a run. The next most interesting fight for him might be one with light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
We’re still a long way off before we call Velasquez the greatest heavyweight of all time. Emelianenko still owns that title and he isn’t giving it up any time soon. But later this year, Velasquez will likely have one up on "The Last Emperor" — he will have beaten Fabricio Werdum.