Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight contenders Fabricio Werdum and Marcin Tybura will clash TONIGHT (Nov. 18, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 121 inside Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney, Australia.
Werdum can’t seem to avoid controversy. In the last six months, Werdum managed to get kicked off his commentary gig on FOX Deportes, as well as getting in hot water for using a homophobic slur. Werdum added to his rap sheet — literally, he’s being charged with assault — earlier this week by boomeranging UFC Welterweight contender and noted troll, Colby Covington, in the face.
It’s a good thing the Brazilian is a great fighter.
Tybura has been winning far more quietly, but winning nonetheless. The Polish fighter is on a three-fight win streak that saw him rise from obscurity to the No. 8 position in the division, earning him this step up in competition.
Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for each man.
Key Wins: Alistair Overeem (Pride FC: Total Elimination), Fedor Emelianenko (Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Werdum), Cain Velasquez (UFC 188), Travis Browne (UFC 203, UFC on FOX 11), Mark Hunt (UFC 180)
Key Losses: Stipe Miocic (UFC 198), Alistair Overeem (UFC 213, Strikeforce: Overeem vs. Werdum), Junior dos Santos (UFC 90)
Keys to Victory: An extraordinary grappler with aggressive kickboxing, Werdum has been a top-tier Heavyweight for many years now. Even at 40 years old, Werdum is right in the mix and just a win or two away from a title shot.
Not to take anything away from Tybura, but he’s probably the least heavy puncher Werdum has faced since his 2013 bout with Nogueira. There are generally two paths to defeating Werdum since he’s developed his Muay Thai: knock him out or be Alistair Overeem and win a weird decision.
In short, Werdum’s aggression and kicks should serve him well against Tybura, even if he does ate a few counter shots. Tybura will be hesitant to take the Brazilian down, which will make it far easy to beat up the Pole on the feet.
That said, I would like to see Werdum mix in a shot or two of his own. Werdum hasn’t really been interested in shooting for his own takedowns lately, but he reminded us all last time out that it only takes one for him to finish the fight quickly.
Key Wins: Andrei Arlovski (UFC Fight Night 111), Viktor Pesta (UFC Fight Night 92), Luis Henrique (UFC 209), Damian Grabowski (M-1 Challenge 50)
Key Losses: Timothy Johnson (UFC Fight Night 86)
Keys to Victory: Tybura is a well-rounded fighter who excels at range and from top position. Since his UFC debut, Tybura has won fights largely with consistency, maintaining a better pace than his opponents and pushing the fight wherever his advantage stood.
Tybura’s end goal for this bout should be a counter punch knockout. Werdum is a durable athlete, but he’s still 40 years old and prone to reckless aggression. As Stipe Miocic showed, it doesn’t take a massive, loaded up shot to knock out Werdum if he’s running forward face-first.
Tybura is an above-average counter striker, and his takedown defense gives him a fair shot at keeping this on the feet. His best bet is to kick with the former champion and convince him to charge in or throw a naked kick in return.
Even if the knockout doesn’t materialize, Tybura could out-work Werdum if he’s sharp.
Bottom Line: The winner is in the title mix.
Werdum has losses to the division’s champion and No. 1 contender, which does put him in a difficult spot. At the same, it’s Heavyweight, meaning random opportunities arise due to injury all the time. Plus, his rivalry with Alistair Overeem isn’t necessarily over yet, and he’s only lost to Miocic once.
A win doesn’t earn him the shot, but it puts him close. A loss, meanwhile, could simply be a case of getting caught. However, it could also mean that Werdum’s time at the top is coming to an end, which is possible at any point given his age.
The stakes are similarly high for Tybura but only if he wins. A victory over Werdum is still a remarkably difficult commodity to come by, and it would put him alongside the names of fellow upstarts like Francis Ngannou and Alexander Volkov. Like Werdum, it probably wouldn’t earn him the title shot, but he’d only be a victory away.
Alternatively, a loss doesn’t cost him any ground, even if it’ll be a couple fights before he gets another top five foe.
TONIGHT at UFC Fight Night 121, Fabricio Werdum and Marcin Tybura will battle in the main event. Which man will be named the victor?