Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight contenders Fabricio Werdum and Mark Hunt collided in a striker vs. grappler battle for the interim strap last night (Nov. 15, 2014) at UFC 180 inside Arena Ciudad de Mexico in Mexico City, Mexico.
Since re-entering UFC, Werdum put on four excellent performances against some quality opposition. Though he earned his shot against Cain Velasquez, the Brazilian was paired off with Hunt for the interim title after "Brown Pride" fell to another injury.
Hunt attempted to continue his Cinderella story last night. The former K-1 Grand Prix champion may not have built up a lengthy win streak prior to his interim title shot, but Hunt still had plenty of momentum and fan support behind him.
Hunt put up a hell of a fight, but it just wasn't enough.
Werdum opened with a nice leg kick and Hunt returned the favor not long after. Hunt then exploded into an overhand, which sent Werdum to the mat. Of course, it's hard to tell when Werdum is actually hurt, as the Brazilian stood back up without issue.
When Hunt jumped into a combination, Werdum pushed forward and bounced off Hunt, falling into his guard. Hunt fell with him, and Werdum locked his guard up before Hunt could move out. About a minute later, Hunt manages to get back to his feet without getting put in much danger.
Hunt landed a nice uppercut from within the clinch. Hunt momentarily pushed for a takedown near the end of the round but gives up on it.
For the first time on the main card, the fight moved into the second round, and Hunt clearly was in the lead.
Werdum was hesitant to begin the second round. Hunt landed a hard right hand, and Werdum willingly fell to his back. Back on his feet, Werdum whiffs on a pair of head kicks.
Suddenly, Werdum steps into a spearing knee that drops Hunt to the mat.
"Vai Cavalo" pounced on his hurt opponent with a series of hammer fists and right hands. Though Hunt seemed to remain conscious, he absorbed a large number of punches and didn't move very much, causing Herb Dean to call the bout.
Werdum has always been an opportunistic finisher on the mat, and it seems that his potency now extends to his striking as well. Werdum was taking a beating on his feet but remained calm and waited for his opportunity.
Werdum's nasty guard helped keep him safe in this bout as well. Whenever Hunt had a solid connection, Werdum could sit down and make Hunt hesitant to pursue the finish. It's so difficult to tell when Werdum is truly hurt by punches, and guessing wrong can lead to giving Werdum time to recover or falling into a submission.
There's no doubt as to Werdum's next bout. The unification bout between him and Velasquez should be highly entertaining, and hopefully it takes place in either Mexico or Brazil as Werdum requested.
On a side note, listening to Werdum deliver his post-fight speech in three languages was certainly interesting.
Hunt put on a hell of a performance despite the short notice. He was utterly dominant in the first round and Hunt's wrestling was incredible. Each time Werdum attempted to grapple, he simply bounced off the "Super Samoan."
Unfortunately, the dual pronged threat of Werdum's vicious submissions and dangerous striking eventually overcame Hunt's defense. Hunt was so focused on repelling the takedown and countering that Werdum's knee shot through his guard.
Though he lost, this performance honestly made me more interested in an eventual bout with Velasquez. If the champion can retain his title, a match up with Hunt would definitely be intriguing.
At UFC 180, Fabricio Werdum put on a gutsy performance to win the interim title against Mark Hunt. Can he defeat Cain Velasquez and unify the titles?
For complete UFC 180 "Werdum vs Hunt" results and play-by-play click HERE.