Luke Rockhold’s desire to face Fabricio Werdum has reached the ears of the reigning Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight titleholder. During a pause from training for his Feb. 6 rematch with Rockhold’s American Kickboxing Academy stablemate Cain Velasquez, Werdum answered the middleweight champion’s verbal challenge.
“He said he doesn’t respect me and would like to face me,” Werdum told Sherdog.com. “I remember he said the same thing when I first fought Velasquez -- and he said my interim belt was a fake belt -- but when I passed through [Velasquez], after the fight I asked him about the fake belt and he just said, ‘Good job.’ I have a lot of respect for [Daniel] Cormier, Velasquez and most AKA guys, but I never liked ‘Cockyhold.’ This guy is so arrogant with everyone, and I really don’t like people who behave that way. If you are really ‘the guy,’ you don’t need to show that or disrespect the opponents.”
Werdum submitted Velasquez with a guillotine choke in June to unify the UFC heavyweight championship. Now in the final stages of his preparation for the rematch, the 38-year-old Brazilian sees a similar result unfolding at UFC 196.
“My training is really hard. The only thing that I changed was my physical training, my cardio,” Werdum said. “I started to train with Nick Curson, the guy who prepares Rafael dos Anjos and Lyoto [Machida]. He is such an intelligent professional. He is not the type of trainer that wants to take your guts out to prove how good he is. The rest is the same: Monday, Wednesday and Friday with Rafael Cordeiro at Kings MMA, Tuesday [and] Thursday three hours of jiu-jitsu drills with Rubens Charles. The energy is 100 percent to get my title defense against Velasquez.”
Beyond Velasquez, other challenges await. Stipe Miocic, who put away Andrei Arlovski at UFC 195, and Alistair Overeem, who stopped Junior dos Santos at UFC on Fox 17, top the list.
“I thought both ‘Cigano’ and Arlovski committed the same mistake; they thought about the belt and underestimated their next challengers,” Werdum said. “Both talked a lot and were knocked out”
Miocic impressed the champion.
“He was in great shape with heavy hands and proved that by going through Arlovski, who is well known for not having a strong chin,” Werdum said. “I can’t think about Miocic now, though. My goal is focusing on Velasquez and doing my job.”
Werdum would like to see Miocic tackle Overeem in a title eliminator.
“It depends on the UFC,” he said. “Maybe they will put him against Overeem to see who deserves the title shot more. Otherwise, both Overeem and Miocic will go too long without fighting. The UFC just announced events in Croatia and Holland. Both would be fitting for [a Miocic-Overeem] main event.”