Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum hit the open market earlier this year after wrapping up his contract for Dana White and Co., submitting Alexander Gustafsson at UFC on ESPN 14 back in July.
There was immediate interest from Bellator MMA thanks in large part to the Brazilian’s existing relationship with promotion president Scott Coker, who worked with Werdum back in the Strikeforce days, but unfortunately for “Via Cavalo” they were unable to close the deal.
“It didn’t happen that I closed with them because Bellator wanted to do the rematch with Fedor Emelianenko in my first fight with them,” Werdum told Combate. “I respect Fedor a lot, I can’t say that he didn’t want to fight, but there was no negotiation with Fedor, on his part he didn’t have to have this first fight. Bellator wanted this to be my first fight to have that impact already, and then close four or five more fights as a contract.”
I’m sure Werdum comes with a sizable price tag which means a debut loss to someone other than “The Last Emperor” would be catastrophic, particularly at age 43. And let’s face it, Emelianenko is the money fight for any heavyweight competing in Bellator MMA.
“I am also aware that (manager) Ali Abdelaziz is talking to the PFL, and it may be that I will enter this championship,” Werdum said. “I don’t know if it is very well known in Brazil, but it is like a championship, you enter and make four fights, you win these four fights you are the champion and you win the prize of one million dollars, plus your purse, so that interested me a lot.”
Professional Fighters League (PFL) is expected to resume its tournament-based format next spring and will award a $1 million prize in multiple weight classes. Werdum (24-9-1) would likely be an early favorite to go all the way, based on his skills and experience.