Why Fabricio Werdum is a Tougher Challenger than Junior dos Santos
By Christopher Jester
Fabricio Werdum did what he was so close to doing during his first outing within the UFC – heading towards a UFC Heavyweight title shot. After a near disastrous first round against Travis Browne, Werdum came back in the second round and cruised to a unanimous decision. But in his five-round showcase, Werdum may have made a statement as to why he is much more a threat to UFC Heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez’s title reign than previous challenger, Junior dos Santos.
Junior dos Santos may have landed that stray punch back in 2011 to defeat Cain Velasquez for the title but it was evident in their rematches that there is more needed from a challenger to defeat Velasquez. Werdum has those attributes. He has good boxing, an amazing ground game, and is decent enough in the clinch against the cage to not face the same issues JDS had in his match-ups against the heavyweight champion.
This one-time one trick pony is now a much more complete fighter than he was when he first entered the Octagon. After his stint in Strikeforce, Werdum is now no longer recklessly depending on what he can do on the ground. This was apparent in his dismantling of Travis Browne. From bell-to-bell, Werdum battered Browne. The only snow ball’s chance in hell that Browne had was landing some punch or kick akin to his comeback victory against Alistair Overeem. But that was never to be, as Werdum was simply superior to the young warrior.
If you compare Junior dos Santos and Fabricio Werdum, there is very little that they share in common. JDS is a power puncher and relies solely on that. He can turn off anyone’s lights if he lands one of those punches. Werdum on the other hand is a tad bit slower, but has more apparent weapons. But his striking is less likely the key to victory for Werdum.
Let us not confuse the situation, this is MMA. Anything can happen. Werdum can land that one punch that could finish Velasquez but that is not where his strengths lie. Nor are we idiotic enough to believe that he is not going to be willing to immediately test out Velasquez’s submission defense.
The problem that Werdum faces in the champion is that Velasquez has a high MMA IQ. He is quick, powerful, and a tactician when it comes to gameplans. Where he excels is in his cardio and his ability to keep his opponent guessing. This is only achievable because his boxing is just as good as his takedowns. Velasquez may shy away from wrestling with Werdum initially but this fight will go on the ground. And that is where the biggest question lies: who has the advantage?
If you consider how much of an advantage that Velasquez had over on JDS on the ground, it is almost simply unfair. He won’t have that clear advantage against Werdum, who has won nine of his bouts via submission. Velasquez’s wrestling is stifling for sure, but Werdum will remain a constant threat. The concern has to be whether or not Werdum will look to spend majority of his time looking for the battle to take place there. He has to be careful of that because Velasquez can end the fight standing up as well. He won’t have to rely solely on his takedowns, unlike Dos Santos who needed the battle to stay standing to win.
Even with all of his abilities coming together, Werdum will still have a tough time implementing them against someone as talented as Velasquez. To be fair, people are writing off Werdum a bit too early, however. If he puts those talents together as masterfully as he did against Travis Browne, he will be a much harder opponent than anyone Velasquez has faced. But we have to be honest: Browne is no Velasquez. In a five-round fight, Cain’s cardio will come into play and Werdum’s submissions abilities will test the champion. Werdum is no longer one-dimensional. He has what it takes to become a legitimate challenger to test the UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez.
Follow Christopher “sLapDatSuCKa” Jester on Twitter @sLapDatSuCka
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