Fabricio Werdum Considers Fedor Emelianenko the GOAT, Expects Fedor Fights Again

Even though he has achieved much in the sport, ex-Ultimate Fighting Championship champ Fabricio Werdum still holds one former foe in much higher regard than himself.

Werdum stands as the only man on the planet to ever submit Fedor Emelianenko in MMA competition, doing so atop a Strikeforce card in 2010 to shock the world. Following the news that Brazilian channel Combate will carry events through Bellator MMA and Professional Fighters League even though its UFC arrangement has ended, Werdum has drawn the assignment as a color commentator for Bellator 290. Speaking to Sherdog on Wednesday about the event, Werdum spoke at length about his former foe, his plans for the future and much more.

“Nobody ever did what [Emelianenko] did in heavyweight division,” Werdum explained. “Ten years undefeated, no doubt he must be considered the GOAT. The other four, I would put [Mirko Filipovic] ‘Cro Cop,’ [Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira] ‘Minotauro,’ Cain Velasquez and myself.”

Of those other competitors he listed above himself, “Vai Cavalo” has submitted three of those. Werdum landed the historic triangle armbar on Emelianenko in 2010, then tapped Nogueira with an armbar in 2013 and went on to submit Velasquez with a guillotine choke in 2015 to claim the UFC heavyweight throne. Knowing that the urge to keep competing is nearly impossible to ignore – after all, at 45, Werdum is still planning to fight again – the Brazilian expects that Emelianenko’s rematch with Ryan Bader will not be his final fight.

“I have no doubt he will return,” Werdum said without missing a beat. “And I can tell, because I’m living exactly the same feeling. Fedor is still performing at a good level and the Russian market pays very well. Being the biggest Russian idol of the sport, I have no doubt that soon he will get an excellent proposal to fight for his fans, and he will return. By the way, I’ll be available for our [rematch] whenever he wants.”

For his own return to action, Werdum plans on fighting in 2023. He has not set foot in a cage since an unfortunate no contest with Renan Ferreira in PFL in 2021, where he elicited an unseen tap only to get punched out by Ferreira.

“I got an excellent proposal to fight in Eagle [FC on] March 11 [in 2022],” he admitted. “There was no way to refuse, but the event was over. I was already returning to a heavy training routine, and I have to admit, when it happened, I lost a little bit of my motivation, [which explains] why I have so much business stuff going on right now. To return, I must have a 100% sure proposal. Now I have another proposal for April 29, and PFL also wanted me in [the] heavyweight [grand prix] starting April 1, but I [am] not in the mood to fight three fights in a [row]. But for sure, a superfight in PFL or a boxing match, I’ll do this year. I’m just living one day after another.”

As several other aging greats have done, the elite grappler has taken a hard look at boxing. Fellow heavyweight Francis Ngannou recently left the confines of the UFC to potentially box, and Werdum wanted to weigh in on Ngannou’s decision, as well as how MMA fighters should approach these negotiations.

“Ngannou is not crazy,” Werdum stated. “If he said no to an eight-million-dollar proposal, it is because he had a clear possibility to get 15, possibly in that partnership with [Tyson] Fury. But personally, I don’t like those deals [where all of the fights are held under] boxing rules. MMA fighters must start to negotiate at least hybrid rules, or one round in MMA and one round in boxing.”

Now that Ngannou is no longer under a UFC contract, the vacant title will be between Jon Jones and Ciryl Gane. Werdum expected that Jones would eventually fight at heavyweight, and he has a great deal of confidence in the former light heavyweight king.

Jon Jones always walked [at] 100 kg (220 pounds) to reach 93 (205 pounds). Of course, he always trained with heavyweights. Now, he is working out for two years to reach heavyweight division. I have no doubt he must be totally adapted. With or without Ngannou, I believe he will be the future UFC heavyweight champion,” Werdum concluded.
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