After reeling off a 3-1 record with Strikeforce after his departure from the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) roster in 2008, Fabricio Werdum now finds himself back with the world's largest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion.
Scheduled to make his return at UFC 143 on Feb. 4, 2012, in Las Vegas, Nevada, "Vai Cavalo" will have no easy task as he takes on the not-so pudgy pugilist Roy Nelson, who is coming off an impressive victory over one of Werdum's former training partners, Mirko Filipovic.
After going an even 2-2 in his first go around with the UFC, Werdum hopes to prove he belongs in the big leagues by taking out one of the most accomplished heavyweight grapplers and Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt (BJJ) "Big Country." And even though Nelson is only 1-2 in his last three outings, Werdum knows that a well-placed punch from Nelson can end a fight in an instant.
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"There's no easy fight anymore. Everybody knows a little bit of everything: Jiu-Jitsu, Wrestling, Boxing, and Muay Thai. It's a different time we're living in. Nelson knocked Cro Cop out, he has a very strong right hand, sharp Boxing, but I'll impose my rhythm and play by my game plan until I tire him out. Knocking out or submitting, I want to make it a good show. I analyzed Nelson when I signed with UFC; I watched his fights and observed his stand-up. He's a heavy guy, so I'm excited about fighting guys like him and I'm training with guys like him on top of me so I get used to it. I'll impose my rhythm. It's hard to knock him out, but anything can happen. If I find a loop, I'll try to finish him. I was watching Rodrigo Nogueira VS. Frank Mir and I've learned that, when the opportunity presents itself, you gotta knockout or submit. The important thing is to have your arm raised at the end of the fight."
A win for Werdum won't necessarily get him closer to a title shot in the suddenly crowded UFC heavyweight division. It will, however, show the MMA world that he indeed belongs amongst the elite heavyweights.
Nelson, on the other hand, hopes to make it two in a row after avoiding the Zuffa axe when he ended his two fight skid against "Cro Cop" at UFC 137.
What's your take, Maniacs -- can Werdum make a successful re-debut with the UFC? Or will the heavy handed Nelson spoil his welcome back party?