MEXICO CITY — It’s evident that Fabricio Werdum and Mark Hunt are coming into the UFC 180 main event Saturday night from very different places.
Werdum was upbeat, excited and energetic Wednesday here during open workouts at the Museo Interactivo de Economia. He led the raucous crowd in song and stopped to sign dozens of autographs, including on the inside of one very aggressive woman’s vest. Werdum is popular in Mexico due to his years of work on the UFC Network in Latin America and was basking in the attention from the hundreds of fans who came out.
Hunt, meanwhile, looked like he wanted to be just about anywhere else. He didn’t even take his sneakers off for the open workout, threw a few combinations and then that was it. His "workout" lasted less than five minutes.
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"I’m feeling hungry and tired and the rest of it," Hunt said. "It comes with the territory."
"The Superstar Samoan" got here two weeks ago and is attempting to cut around 46 pounds to make the heavyweight division’s 265-pound maximum. The bout with Werdum on Saturday at Mexico City Arena is for the UFC’s interim heavyweight title. Ridding himself of that much weight is tough enough, but Mexico City is 7,380 feet above sea level — almost 2,000 feet higher than Denver. The altitude is making it a major chore. Hunt said he’s still more than 10 pounds off weight, but believes he’ll be fine for Friday’s weigh-ins.
"As you can see, I’m kind of f***ed up," said Hunt, who also alluded to outside "issues" that he would have to deal with after the fight.
I’m feeling hungry and tired and the rest of it. It comes with the territory.
Werdum’s demeanor was the polar opposite. He was downright jovial, riling up the crowd and taking his time with media and fans. "Vai Cavalo," a more than 4-to-1 favorite, didn’t just seem confident. He also seemed to be in a healthier state, both mentally and physically. While Hunt took the fight on short notice when Cain Velasquez pulled out with a knee injury, Werdum has been in Mexico for two months with his team training at altitude.
Werdum (18-5-1) said the difference between regular training and doing it at altitude is "drastic."
"I feel really good, because I’ve been in Mexico for a really long time," Werdum said. "It’s been months since I came here. That’s why I feel so great because of the dedication that I had and I’m now adjusted to the altitude."
Werdum clearly has an advantage in that respect. He doesn’t have to cut weight. He’s used to the conditions. And on top of that, the Brazilian would have been the favorite anyway because of his superior ground skills.
None of that means Hunt (10-8-1) can be counted out. But if the New Zealander wins, it’ll be the most incredible victory of a career filled with implausible moments.
"I’m taking my opportunity," Hunt said. "That’s why I’m here."