Fabricio Werdum had waited a long time for a title shot against UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, but now the circumstances have changed greatly due to an injury to the champ. Shoulder surgery will leave Velasquez out of action for a good chunk of 2014, so now Werdum will be forced to return to action in what shapes up as a very dangerous title eliminator match against Travis Browne.
The UFC simply felt having the veteran Brazilian submission ace continue to wait for Velasquez wasn’t going to help his case of being the top contender due to what would have been a tremendously long stretch of inactivity. Werdum hasn’t fought since a June armbar submission victory over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira that made him an impressive 3-0 in his second stint with the promotion.
Werdum has also posted wins during his career rejuvenation against Roy Nelson and Mike Russow. “Vai Cavalo” is confident he can re-affirm his no. 1 contender status with another victory against Browne, and expects that the fight will happen at an event in March in a five-round affair.
As for “Hapa”, it’s been an impressive run for him since losing for the first and only time in his career against Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva. Browne suffered a hamstring injury in that fight which helped lead to his demise. Since then, he’s recorded three straight Knockout of the Night first-round stoppages of Gabriel Gonzaga, Alistair Overeem and most recently Josh Barnett. The victory over Barnett at UFC 168 came in a mere 60 seconds thanks to impressive standing elbows that knocked the veteran senseless and derailed his title hopes.
The Werdum-Browne matchup should be a tremendous contest and the stakes are perfectly clear. The winner will find themselves looking across the Octagon at Velasquez when the champion tries to make his next successful title defense in the latter stages of this year.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports