Fabricio Werdum Recounts Tense Past Sparring Session with Alexander Gustafsson

By Marcelo Alonso Jul 14, 2020

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With one fight remaining on his current UFC contract, Fabricio Werdum promises that he will arrive at “Fight Island” in peak condition for his matchup with Alexander Gustafsson on July 25.

Werdum is coming off a disapppointing split-decision defeat to Alexey Oleynik at UFC 249, his first bout in more than two years.

“Last fight I not only felt my absence of two years away from the UFC Octagon, but also I made a totally wrong choice in training,” Werdum told Sherdog.com. “I went up to Big Bear Mountain, where I stayed for two months without sparring and just training via video. Definitely there is no way to train via the internet, and I felt that in my return.

“So this time I changed everything. I made a real camp with physical training, a lot of jiu-jitsu with master Rubens Cobrinha Charles, MMA with master Rafael Cordeiro, who also had me do a lot of sparring at Kings MMA. Also this time I worked my mind with Eric Faro, who was recommended by Cris Cyborg. The guy is doing a wonderful job with me concerning my focus. You will see a totally different Werdum on July 25. My self confidence is really high.”

Werdum also revealed that he once engaged in a spirited sparring session with Gustafsson several years back that left both men angry, busted up and bleeding.

“It happened around eight years ago when I went to train wrestling at Mark Munoz’s academy. When I arrived there, Travis Browne and Gustafsson were doing an MMA sparring session coordinated by his trainer, who invited me to join them. I imagined the trainer would do some kind of rotation sparring, but he put me in the middle with both coming in sequence,” Werdum said.

“Of course it was not fair. First I did it with Browne, later with Gustafsson and again with Browne and again with Gustafsson. In that second sparring session, Gustafsson opened a cut on my nose, then I grabbed his neck in a Thai clinch and hit a knee in his face, which opened a big cut. I imagine he got around five stitches in there. Of course, Gustafsson and his trainer got angry with me, said a couple of bad words and the sparring didn’t finish in a good atmosphere,” he added. “I don’t have a problem talking about tactics. Gustafsson knows I want to take him down and that's no secret. And I´ll take him down and submit him. I live on the same street as Lyoto Machida, and he is helping me a lot concerning approach and distance for this fight.”

  With Cordeiro currently training Mike Tyson, Werdum revealed that he has been granted access to Tyson’s ranch. However, he hasn’t risked a sparring session against “Iron Mike.”

“Man, I have to tell you, if master Rafael invited me, I wouldn’t answer the phone. Train only boxing with Tyson? I´m out,” Werdum said. “Only if I’m stupid. I had the opportunity to see some of his training with master Cordeiro and he is definitely a different specimen — power, speed, concentration. I was really impressed,” Werdum said.

Fabrício even feigned jealousy regarding the budding relationship between Tyson and his trainer.

“Last week Rafael called me from the Bahamas, where they had a wonderful experience diving with sharks. On one hand, I´m very happy to see my master and friend´s work being recognized. On the other hand, between me and Sherdog readers, I'm a little bit jealous,” Werdum said with a laugh.

When talk turned to his future in MMA, Werdum got more serious. “Vai Cavalo” has the option of pursuing retirement, a new UFC contract or free agency following his fight with Gustafsson.

“Let´s see what future holds for me,” the Brazilian said. “The only assurance is that I'm not going to retire now.”

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