Upon his arrival into the Professional Fighter’s League (PFL) 2021 season, Fabricio Werdum was touted as the Tom Brady of mixed martial arts (MMA). Brady, largely considered American football’s greatest player of all time, announced his retirement from the National Football League (NFL) this offseason only to unretire 40 days later.
The move from Brady was straight out of any MMA legend’s playbook and now we’ll have to wait and see if Werdum ends up doing the same. Though noncommittal to the idea of retirement, “Vai Cavalo” admits his time competing in cages is likely behind him as he was a glaring omission from the 2022 PFL Heavyweight roster revealed on Tuesday (March 29, 2022).
“It’s a bit complicated to say that to a fighter after 24 years of fighting,” Werdum told Ag. Fight (translation via MMA Fighting). “Even my wife keeps telling me to say I’m retired, that I’m done. I tell her I won’t say it... But talking about MMA, I think it’s hard for me to come back because it’s more dedication, staying two, three months in the United States, and I’m living in Brazil for a year and three months now. If there’s a boxing match, I’d do it... To sum it up: boxing, yes. MMA, no. It would need to be an out-of-this-world offer to make me stop doing what I’ve been doing right now.”
Werdum, 44, went through an odd saga with the PFL last season. Debuting against Renan Ferreira, the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) master locked in a triangle choke submission that forced his opponent to tap. However, the referee missed Ferreira’s forfeit and let the bout continue which led to Ferreira knocking out Werdum with ground and pound moments later. The bout was changed to a no contest after being reviewed by the New Jersey State Athletic Commission.
Two months later, the former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) champion was to return against Brandon Sayles but withdrew due to what he described as a lack of interest and motivation following his PFL debut. Though at the time, Werdum stated medical exams had revealed he was dealing with brain swelling and he needed to prioritize his health.
Werdum’s last win came in July 2020 in what was his final UFC bout against Alexander Gustafsson whom he defeated via first-round armbar submission (watch highlights).
The PFL’s 2022 Featherweight and Heavyweight tournaments begin on April 28, 2022.
- Heavyweight: Bruno Cappelozza (14-5) vs. Stuart Austin (15-7)
- Featherweight: Brendan Loughnane (21-4) vs, Ryoji Kudo (10-2-1)
- Heavyweight: Ante Delija (19-5) vs. Matheus Scheffel (15-7)
- Heavyweight: Renan Ferreira (8-2, 1 NC) vs. Jamelle Jones (12-7)
- Featherweight: Lance Palmer (22-5) vs. Chris Wade (20-7)
- Featherweight: Bubba Jenkins (16-5) vs. Jo Sungbin (9-2)
- Heavyweight: Denis Goltsov (27-7) vs. Sam Kei (8-5)
- Heavyweight: Ali Isaev (9-0) vs. Klidson Abreu (15-5, 1 NC)
- Featherweight: Sheymon Moraes (13-5) vs. Boston Salmon (8-3)
- Featherweight: Alejandro Flores (20-3) vs. Saba Bolaghi (14-2-1)