Following his second-round verbal submission victory over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in the UFC on FUEL TV 10: "Nogueira vs. Werdum 2" main event, Fabricio Werdum is now in prime pouncing position in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight division.
Werdum avenged a 2006 loss to "Minatauro" with an armbar of his fellow Brazilian legend and has now won three-straight fights against opponents who are, or at the time of he fought them were, in the top-10 of the division.
That's a resume few others in the weight class can match at this point.
However, since a trilogy fight between the two is taking place, "Vai Cavalo" is going to have to fight and win at least one more bout to solidify a title shot.
According to the officially UFC rankings, Werdum is the No. 3 contender in the heavyweight division only behind dos Santos --who will next challenge for the title late this year-- and Daniel Cormier, who's future at this time is up in the air.
That leaves very little wiggle room for Werdum to move up the ladder and means that if he can't fight Cormier, he might just have to take a fight against a lower ranked opponent.
Around the time of UFC 160, Cormier expressed interest in challenging the winner of Werdum and Nogueira, which is an appealing fight, but one that doesn't make a ton of sense considering "DC" has openly stated he is on his way down to the light heavyweight division.
While Werdum vs. Cormier would be a match up of the world's No. 2 and No. 3 ranked heavyweights; it makes little sense to risk eliminating Werdum as a title contender against a fighter who doesn't have a future in the division.
If Cormier was committed to the weight class that would be one thing, but that's far from the case and if he won't fight the champion Velasquez, there is no point in having him fight elite heavyweights.
That leaves Werdum with a much narrower selection for what's next.
With that said, the 35-year-old should face the winner of Alistair Overeem vs. Travis Browne --who face off at the UFC on FOX Sports 1 debut on Aug. 17, 2013-- in a No. 1 contenders bout for the right to challenge the winner of Velasquez vs. dos Santos 3.
Overeem and Werdum already have a storied past as they have fought twice before with each man winning one. The most recent of those two bouts came under the Strikeforce banner in June 2011 where Overeem won a lackluster unanimous decision.
That defeat is the only blemish on Werdum's record since 2008 and the Brazilian has insisted that he would be much more aggressive if giving a third opportunity to square off with "The Reem."
As for Browne, the Jackson's MMA trained fighter would relish a fight against someone of Werdum's stature. "Hapa" would catapult up the rankings with a win against Overeem and a title eliminator with Werdum would seemingly be the most logical next step.
Since Werdum was just sidelined for a year due to The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): Brazil 2 reality show, waiting what could be nearly another full year for the winner of Velasquez and dos Santos is simply not an option. And whether it's against Cormier, Overeem, Browne or someone else, he needs to fight again as soon as possible to make up for lost time.
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