Fabricio Werdum was all set to challenge Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez for his division strap after racking up three straight wins.
But now that Cain underwent surgery to repair his shoulder, "Vai Cavalo" found himself sitting on the sidelines, something he was willing to do to preserve his shot at UFC gold. Tired of playing the waiting game, Werdum felt the best option was to take another fight.
Enter Travis Browne, winner of three straight knockout (KO) wins over Gabriel Gonzaga, Alistair Overeem and Josh Barnett.
Though a date has yet to be confirmed for the No. 1 contender's bout, Fabricio expects it to go down this spring and is already breaking down his gameplan. More importantly, "Vai Cavalo" dissected his foe's weaknesses in a recent interview with MMA Fighting:
"We don't have a date 100-percent confirmed yet, but I believe it's going to be in March. I already know that it's going to be a main event, so it's a five-round fight. He doesn't have good cardio, so that's good for me. He's explosive when the fight starts, tries to finish it quickly, with jumping stuff and knockouts, so I see a lot of openings to defeat him."
According to Werdum, while he's confident he has the distinct advantage in the ground game, he feels his striking game is up to par to compete with "Hapa:"
"Travis Browne has been doing great recently with three consecutive ‘Knockout of the Night' bonuses, so it would be a great fight before a shot at the title. We have trained together a few times three years ago, and he knows how the training was. He knows that he doesn't have a good ground game. He's not an expert on the ground, and I'm getting better and better in the striking area. I train with Rafael Cordeiro for seven years, so we'll plan the right strategy to win."
And unlike "The Warmaster" before him, Fabricio won't get desperate and stray from his gameplan.
"I won't go there like (Gabriel) Gonzaga and Barnett did. Barnett looked desperate, he didn't look like the veteran that he is. The clinch, the takedown, the body lock will eventually happen. I don't need to shoot for a double leg. His takedown defense and elbows are really good, so I won't make this mistake. We will fight on the ground eventually."
Of course, before the fight takes place, Browne has to first come to terms on a new contract with UFC after holding off on renewing an extension prior to the Barnett fight at UFC 168. A fight he took a pay cut in, just to prove he deserves a raise in his next go-round.
But as Browne's manager recently told MMA Junkie, he is confident the the two sides will come to a mutual agreement.
What say you Maniacs, which of these top contenders will make it four straight inside the Octagon and receive the right to face Cain for the heavyweight strap?