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UFC 147 fight card: Fabricio Werdum gets his showcase against Mike Russow

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Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images.
Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images.

Tonight's (Sat., June 23, 2012) UFC 147: "Silva vs. Franklin 2" event going down at the Estádio Jornalista Felipe Drumond in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, will feature a showcase fight for Fabricio Werdum.

Indeed, when discussions of potential title challengers to Junior dos Santos arise, "Vai Cavalo" isn't a name that comes up often. Perhaps that's because of how badly the UFC heavyweight champion knocked him out back at UFC 90 in Oct. 2008.

But should that really count against him when considering his resume since then?

Werdum rebounded from that loss by submitting Mike Kyle, winning a decision over Antonio Silva, and becoming the first man to (legitimately) defeat Fedor Emelianenko. And he did so in just over one minute.

A bizarre outing against Alistair Overeem followed and perhaps that's also the culprit for his lack of respect at present time. We all know he's good, sure, but putting in stinker performances against some of the world's best doesn't inspire confidence that he should be given another shot at them.

That's why tonight is so important.

Mike Russow isn't an altogether impressive opponent, despite his 11 fight winning streak, including victories in all four of his Octagon sojourns.

But he's largely unheralded because he has yet to test his mettle against the upper echelon of his division. Everything before tonight, while significant, hardly matters in comparison. If he loses to Werdum, he'll drop like a stone all the way back down to the lowest rung of the divisional ladder.

And that's why tonight is so hugely important to him.

Really, though, this feels like a showcase for Werdum. He's fighting with a sort of home field advantage and he's eager to show he deserves to move back up the ranks at 265-pounds. His path is clear and it starts with an impressive performance against Russow, an opponent who is seemingly tailor made to bring out the best in the Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert.

Werdum has his showcase tonight. Can he take advantage? Or will Russow continue his improbable run and score yet another huge upset?

We're just hours away from finding out.