Ladies and gentlemen this may very well be the next match-up to determine who is the number 1 contender for the Heavyweight title shot at current champ, Cain Velasquez. I thought we'd take a look at both fighters and see how they compare to one another on paper, sound like fun? Does to me.
First up is Fabricio "Vai Cavalo" Werdum, the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu master hailing from Porto Alegre, Brazil. Fabricio is, as I mentioned, an elite BJJ practitioner in fact he's widely regarded as the best BJJ player in the entire UFC heavyweight division. That's quite an achievement when you consider both Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira and former 2 time UFC heavyweight champ Frank Mir call the heavyweight division their home.
What accolades have earned Werdum such praise? Well aren't you glad I'm here to tell you? Of course you are, stop sucking up though. Werdum is a 2nd-degree blackbelt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under the one and only Octavio Couto, a 2-time Gold Medalist in the ADCC World Submission Championships, a 4-time Gold Medalist in the IBJJF World Jiu Jitsu Championships, and a 4-time Gold Medalist at the Pan-Am Jiu Jitsu Championships. Wow that's a lot of grappling. He's also received submission of the year from 7 different high profile MMA organizations/journalist sites and 3 upset of the year awards for his victory over previously undefeated and world renowned heavyweight legend, Fedor Emelianenko.
Is Werdum all grappling though? No, no he isn't I tell you. Werdum is a blackbelt under famed Muay Thai instructor Rafael Cordeiro. And recently we've seen that he can use this striking to control a fight when needed, as seen in the Roy Nelson fight. Werdum has also been fighting some of the best competition since he came into the MMA world so he's not lacking in the experience department. He's a threat for anyone at heavyweight.
Now is the part where I introduce to Werdum's potential opponent for this spot right? Right.
Travis Browne is a 6 foot 7, 250+ lbs monster in the UFC's heavyweight division. He's riding two KO wins over two top opponents who were heavy favorites against him, Alistair Overeem former Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion and Josh Barnett a former UFC Heavyweight Champion.
Browne's had quite of a bit of stiff adversity in his time in the UFC, which he's done well against no doubt due to the fact that he trains at one of the best camps in the entire world, Jackson's MMA. Browne definitely gives up a significant experience and grappling disadvantage to Werdum but that hasn't stopped him in the past, he dispatched of Josh Barnett very quickly despite lacking the grappling prerequisites to clinch up with the former champ. He also sports a 100% takedown defense rating.
You intrigued yet? You should be.
Browne's striking has proven to be the difference in his previous bouts. His range and use of kicks and leaping superman strikes tends to set his opponents in a back pedaling state of mind. Browne also packs quite a wallop with each strike, that's to be expected when he's 6'7, 250+ lbs!
"Didn't you already say that?" - Overly critical Mania reader. Yes I did but I found it that important that I should say it again, stop being a jerk.
I suppose at some point I should list their weaknesses and strengths in list so you can compare? "Yeah you should." Good thing I was about to, jerk.
+ High level Jiu Jitsu, Improved striking, and fairly sturdy on his feet, Werdum is a nightmare match up for most heavyweights because you can almost just sense that at some point the fight is hitting the mat and you don't want to be there with him of all people.
- Despite only having 1 straight up KO loss (to Junior Dos Santos) Werdum is known to get tagged and eat shots occassionally this could prove very dangerous in a fight with someone like Browne.
+ Ever improving, KO power, takedown defense and great range, Browne will look to keep Werdum at a distance and overwhelm him with pure striking power in my opinion. But even if he's unable to the man has never been taken down so this is a very interesting match up.
- Has lower level grappling, I think if Werdum wants to beat this guy he'll need to get him down. Browne has also been KO'd a single time in his career (by Antonio Silva), but Werdum isn't known for heavy hands. Browne's lack of grappling is definitely the biggest hole he has in his game for this fight. Werdum needs to look to take advantage as quickly as possible.
"What about your prediction?" Mine? "Yeah yours." Well I don't usually pick between fighters I like. "Just tell us." Fine.
My Prediction: Werdum will get roughed up, eventually they'll hit the mat and after getting pounded on for a short while Werdum will find a way to slap Browne in a triangle or armbar, sink it in deep and get the win. After that Browne will focus heavily on his ground game, come back submit a few guys and inevitably get his own title shot. I think they're both great fighters and have a shot at taking that gold home, from two different sides of the spectrum (Werdum: grappling, Browne: striking).
Thanks for reading. "Your welcome." No one asked you suck-up. I'm Nikki and this was my article, hope you enjoyed it. Stay crazy fight fans.