Fabricio Werdum made his triumphant return to the UFC last night (February 4, 2012) when he took on the winner of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season 10, Roy Nelson, in the co-main event of UFC 143.
Admit it, upon first look at the fight between "Vai Cavalo" and "Big Country," you didn't jump up and scream "Fight of the Night! but that's exactly what ended up happening.
After laying a big fat egg in his previous fight with Alistair Overeem, Werdum came out a man possessed and put on perhaps a worse beating on Nelson than the current champion Junior dos Santos did.
So how was the world champion Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace able to handle Nelson so easily? And what's next for both top heavyweights?
Follow me after the jump for our Fabricio Werdum vs. Roy Nelson UFC 143 post-fight review and analysis:
Right away, this wasn't the same Werdum who flopped to his back repeatedly in his last fight. He looked tense, ready to pounce at a moment's notice and he struck with an instinctual knee the instant Nelson changed levels on him.
Even more impressive was his response as Nelson waded in with a huge right hand, kicking "Big Country's" lead leg out from under him and immediately leaping onto his back and scoring a takedown although he couldn't keep him on the canvas.
As Nelson worked his way back to the feet, Werdum kept a tight grip on him, placing the TUF veteran in the thai plum and just brutalizing him with knees which busted open his face with a huge cut on Nelson's nose. Werdum kept the pressure on "Big Country" but upon separation, he ate a nice right hand which dropped/slipped him.
It was a tremendous start for "Vai Cavalo" and while he wasn't able to put forth the same amount of damage in rounds two and three, he still fought at a measured pace with occasional bursts of violence. This wasn't your momma's Fabricio Werdum, this was Werdum 2.0, a fighter who's looking much more well-rounded after taking some time off to continue to improve his game.
In the end, Roy Nelson was tough as nails, but he had no answer for Werdum's length and his diversity of attack. There's only so much damage one can do with a big right hand compared to the elbows, knees, punches and kicks that Werdum was tossing his way. The judges agreed, awarding Werdum an easy unanimous decision.
For Roy Nelson, this fight cemented the unfortunate fact that he's not going to be a player at the very top of the division. He can hang with the mid-tier heavyweights, but every time he's stepped in against a top 10 opponent, he's been blown out. Being tough is one thing, but he's got to offer more than a big right hand if he wants to be effective against the best guys.
I'd like to see Nelson square off against someone like Mike Russow next, perhaps the loser of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix finals between Josh Barnett and Daniel Cormier or maybe even Gabriel Gonzaga. As long as they can keep putting him in fun fights, that's all that matters for now.
For Fabricio Werdum, this was a coming-out party of sorts. Sure he shocked the world against Fedor Emelianenko, but a three fight losing streak by "The Last Emperer" tarnished that tremendous upset a bit. In my opinion, he looked better last night than in any prior fight in his career. He looked confident in the stand-up and also very aggressive, throwing a wide array of strikes. Hopefully he can keep up this style of fighting because he can be a serious player in the UFC heavyweight division if so.
I think a perfect fight for Werdum would be Frank Mir, as both are coming off very impressive victories. Other possibilities include a bout with Cain Velasquez or potentially someone like Cheick Kongo if he were to get past Mark Hunt later this month. Either way, keep an eye out for Werdum to continue making big moves at 265 pounds.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Were you impressed by this aggressive and powerful Werdum we were witness to last night? Do you think he can make an impact at the top of the division after a performance like that?
For complete UFC 143 results, including blow-by-blow, fight-by-fight coverage of the entire event as well as immediate post-fight reaction click here, here and here.