There was only one heavyweight bout last night (June 23, 2012) but it was a big deal as potential title contender Fabricio Werdum took on the surprising Mike Russow, who had quietly gone 4-0 in his UFC career.
Russow had a reputation for being able to take a ton of punishment and for being able to grind out victories with either his right hand or with his wrestling, but Werdum had other plans.
The ADCC world champion submission specialist came out throwing bombs and while he is still a bit herky-jerky out there, "Vai Cavalo" exploded with a fantastic series of combinations to stop the American via strikes for the first time in his career.
So how did Werdum pull it off? And what happens next for both heavyweights?
Werdum came out extremely aggressive with his strikes and it was apparent very quickly that he was out of Russow's league. Russow just looked awkward out there and he was not enjoying Werdum's punches and knees early on.
"Vai Cavalo" wasn't just winging strikes recklessly either, he was composed and working his combinations, really picking Russow apart.
Finally, Werdum threw a nice combination with a leg kick followed by a brutal uppercut right up the middle which cracked Russow on the chin and put the big man down for the first time in his UFC career. Once on the ground, Werdum swarmed him with accurate punches, kicks and elbows on the ground until the referee intervened.
For Mike Russow, this was just about as bad as anything that could have happened for him. He had been on the verge of being in "the mix" at heavyweight, but he was completely destroyed by Werdum which pretty much proved he won't be at the top of the division for a very long time. He looked a step slow and was way too hittable.
For Fabricio Werdum, he went out there and took care of business just like he needed to do. I didn't have high expectations for this fight but this is the second time in a row he's vastly exceeded my pre-fight predictions in terms of excitement. "Vai Cavalo" has looked dominant for two fights in a row and his striking, while not the most technical out there, is powerful and very dangerous.
Werdum called out UFC champion Junior dos Santos afterwards, but that likely won't be happening just yet. I'd expect to see him square off against someone along the lines of the Travis Browne vs. Ben Rothwell winner, Frank Mir or perhaps the Stipe Miocic vs. Stefan Struve winner if he's willing to wait.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Did Werdum look like a title contender after that performance? Were you expecting him to stop Russow via strikes?