THAT will have to be the last time Fabricio Werdum gets doubted. I predicted Cain Velasquez to prevail at UFC 188, but Werdum reminded everybody just how good he can be.
THE FIGHT. Cain typically started out fast and brought the fight to Werdum. He landed several strikes early in the first round, while Werdum landed his fair share of jabs.
On the few occasions that Werdum tried to take the action to the ground, he deferred and coaxed the two time Brazilian Jiu Jitsu world champion to continue with the fight on their feet.
Werdum was happy to oblige. Cain threw more, but Werdum was very accurate with his punches, and in no time, Cain was already bleeding.
The blistering pace seemed impossible to maintain, and true enough, before the end of the 1st , both men slowed down, but Cain appeared to be the more tired fighter headed into their corners.
In the second, Cain continued to be the aggressor, but he was visibly winded and the cut continued to bother him. Werdum was rocked on several occasions, but showed he had heart as well as an impossibly durable chin.
In the middle of the round, the physician had to check Cain who was leaking all over the cage, but the fight was allowed to continue.
The defendant champion was fading rapidly, and his punches began to lose their sting. In contrast, Werdum remained steadfast and consistent and was clearly biding his time.
He rocked Cain on several occasions, and the latter’s head would bob up and down, indicating he was badly hurt.
An indicator that Cain had all but given up the notion of trying to knock out Werdum was his new found willingness take the fight to the ground- a dangerous proposition against a BJJ champion of Werdum’s caliber
At the start of the third, you just knew it was a matter of time before Cain would succumb and true enough, at around the 2-minute mark, Werdum easily transitioned a takedown into a guillotine choke and Velasquez tapped.
WERDUM. He’s been around a long time, and has faced numerous top-tier opponents. But he never really got the respect he so richly deserved despite being the first man to legitimately submit the great Fedor Emilanenko.
Perhaps it was because he has lost badly before, and those losses to Alistair Overreem, Junior dos Santos and Andre Arvolvski left such a negative impression that Werdum was perennially dismissed as a mere contender.
However, that impressive display of skill and technique at UFC 188 forces us to rethink our evaluation of his stature.
What is remarkable about him is that he keeps getting better with age. What was readily apparent in that Velasquez victory was how his striking has improved vastly, and he was able to hold his own against the most feared striker in the division.
ALTITUDE. Post-fight, it was revealed that Werdum spent a month acclimatizing himself to the 7,000 feet altitude of Mexico City.
Cain, on the other hand reportedly had to be talked into going 2 weeks early.
The result was palpably clear: Cain gassed out early, and for a striker like him, stamina is a key factor.
In contrast, Werdum was more relaxed, deliberate and had a steady supply of energy.
What comes to mind was Lennox Lewis-Hasim Rahman 1. That first fight was held in South Africa and Lewis did not take the time to adjust his body to the higher altitude.
The result? He was knocked out in 5 rounds.
He did much better when the rematch was held in the USA a few months later and he did Rahman one round better by stopping the latter in 4.
Let’s see if Cain can do the same in a rematch.
LAST ROUND. It’s on my Latagaw bro, Lou Coloyan, who celebrates his birthday this week. Cheers tol, in HBST! (email@example.com)