His nickname may translate to “Go Horse” in Portuguese, but Fabricio Werdum does not fool around when it comes to training and hand-to-hand combat. For more than 15 years, he has fought -- and beaten -- many of the greatest heavyweights of his generation, from Alistair Overeem, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Cain Velasquez to Fedor Emelianenko and Mark Hunt. Werdum has pieced together a hall-of-fame resume in the process.
The latest installment of The Film Room examines some of Werdum’s classic fights ahead of his showdown with former Bellator MMA heavyweight champion Alexander Volkov in the UFC Fight Night 127 main event on Saturday in London:
Dethroning an Emperor
Werdum met Emelianenko in a co-promoted event between Strikeforce and M-1 Global on June 26, 2010. The Russian had not been defeated in close to 10 years. Werdum set out to prove his world-class ground game was enough to take down a man many viewed as virtually invincible. He lured Emelianenko to the mat and into his guard, transitioned from a triangle choke to a triangle armbar and made “The Last Emperor” tap just 69 seconds into the first round. It was Emelianenko’s first loss in 27 fights.
Returning to the Ultimate Fighting Championship for the first time in three-plus years, Werdum faced former International Fight League champion Roy Nelson at UFC 143 on Feb. 4, 2012. The Brazilian dominated the entire fight with his Rafael Cordeiro-honed muay Thai skills, punishing “Big Country” with hard knees and kicks to the head and body. The win resulted in a $65,000 “Fight of the Night” bonus for Werdum, who was awarded 30-27 marks by all three judges.
‘Super Samoan’ Kryptonite
On the heels of wins over Nelson, Nogueira, Mike Russow and Travis Browne, Werdum took center stage opposite Hunt in the UFC 180 main event on Nov. 15, 2014. “The Super Samoan” was revered for his one-punch knockout power and made for an intriguing foil. The 2001 K-1 World Grand Prix winner connected with precise punches early and even executed a takedown on Werdum. The Brazilian found an opening in the second round, landed a devastating knee to the head and followed with a series of destructive hammerfists to seal the deal. Referee Herb Dean called for the stoppage 2:27 into Round 2, giving Werdum possession of the interim UFC heavyweight title.
Momentum was on Werdum’s side when he encountered Velasquez in a battle to unify the heavyweight championship at UFC 188 on June 13, 2015. The Brazilian brought his A game, as he exchanged power punches with the American Kickboxing Academy ace, utilizing a strong clinch and excellent takedown defense. Both men were bloodied entering Round 3, but Velasquez looked the worse for it in the thin Mexico City air. Werdum exploited a desperate takedown attempt from the fatigued Californian and clamped down on a guillotine choke. Velasquez tapped 2:13 into the third round, making Werdum the undisputed UFC heavyweight champion.