01 Jan Fabricio Werdum welcomes rematch with ‘GOAT’ Fedor Emelianenko, promises another first-round finish
After spending more than eight years with the UFC in his latest run with the promotion, former heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum is moving on.
The 43-year-old Brazilian finished his contract with the promotion following a first-round submission win over Alexander Gustafsson in July. Now he’s plotting his future with a new fighting home, though he paid homage to the UFC for the relationship they built for nearly a decade.
“I’m very grateful,” Werdum said about the UFC when speaking to MMA Fighting. “Many, many years, I worked on Spanish TV, too. UFC gave me a lot of things, and I gave a lot to the UFC. We had a good relationship. Sometimes we had a little bit of problems, but not very important.
“I want to say to the UFC, thank you for many, many years, but now it’s the moment to go to the next step. My next step is superfights. I want to make a superfight, and I have two more years to fight. I’m very excited to fight again.”
The matchup at the top of Werdum’s wish list is a rematch with former PRIDE champion Fedor Emelianenko, whom he previously defeated in 2010.
On that night, Werdum was a heavy underdog to Emelianenko, who hadn’t tasted defeat in 10 years while going on an unprecedented 28-fight unbeaten streak. The fight ended at just past the one-minute mark in the opening round as Werdum secured a triangle choke. He was the first and only person to ever submit the legendary Russian.
“I respected Fedor for a long time,” Werdum said. “I never said bad things about him, never in my life. I respect him a lot. But I believe the rematch with him, it’s history for the sport. When I beat him in 2010, I shocked the world, and maybe I shock the world again.
“I believe I finish him in the first round again. I’ll finish him quickly again, cause I’m very confident. When I have the training and my mind is OK, I go in there and this is my life. I love fighting. I love to fight every time. Respect first, but I believe I beat him in the first round again.”
Considering how quickly Werdum dispatched Emelianenko in their first meeting, a rematch might not offer as much benefit. But he doesn’t see it that way.
Instead, the former UFC champion welcomes a second fight with Emelianenko because the Russian asked for the rematch in such a respectful way that he feels it’s only fitting to grant that opportunity.
Add to that, Werdum’s own resume could only benefit from two wins over Emelianenko. It would prove the first fight was no fluke.
“You know why [I’ll fight him again]? Because he said he wanted the rematch, and I loved the idea because I told you, respect with fighters is very important,” Werdum said. “He never said bad things about me. He never talks too much. He just goes in there to fight. My opinion, he’s the greatest in the world.
“Stipe Miocic is the champion today, but greatest of all time is Fedor Emelianenko for sure.”
The debate over the sport’s best heavyweight has again ignited with Miocic cementing his place in the record books. Before beating two-time Olympian Daniel Cormier to cap their trilogy at 2-1, Miocic defended the title more times than any other heavyweight fighter in the UFC.
UFC President Dana White has loudly proclaimed Miocic the greatest heavyweight of all time. Emelianenko, however, is almost always the counter to that argument.
Werdum could also join that conversation. He was a heavyweight UFC champ and delivered high-profile wins over fighters like Emelianenko, Cain Velasquez and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
Werdum knows his accomplishments stand up to any other heavyweight in history, but he prefers to hear those compliments from fans.
“It’s so hard to say,” Werdum responded when asked about the greatest heavyweight of all time. “Just having one fighter in the world, jiu-jitsu champion, ADCC champion, grappling and UFC, it’s me. In the world, it’s just one guy do that and two times with each one. This is very good.
“But I love when the fans say that. When the fans say ‘Werdum is the greatest heavyweight in the world,’ I love this for sure.”
Of course, Werdum promises that he’s not finished adding to his resume, and he’s confident whether it’s Emelianenko or anybody else that he’s more than capable of beating the best heavyweights in the world right now.
“I believe today my mind is very young, and I believe I could finish anyone,” Werdum said. “Just put someone in front of me at heavyweight — Jon Jones, Fedor Emelianenko, Brandon Vera, everyone — when I have good training, I beat anyone, no problem. I believe that.”
While a second fight with Emelianenko is definitely of interest, Werdum would also be more than happy to travel to Asia for a different rematch. Werdum previously finished ONE Championship heavyweight champion Brandon Vera inside the first round in the UFC. Twelve years later, he’s confident he could dish out the same kind of punishment if they met again.
“Maybe, why not take his belt?” Werdum said. “I have two more years to fight for sure. Maybe three or four fights a year. This is my goal. For sure the title is very important to me. I don’t want to fight just to fight. I want to fight to have a goal. To have a title shot. To have a title, I love this. I love belts. This is my goal. Superfights and a belt and the third one, good money is important, especially for my family. This is No. 3. The first one is good fights for the fans. The second one is a title shot and for sure the good money is good, too.”
As of now, Werdum is leaving the negotiation up to his manager Ali Abdelaziz, but he’s confident a deal will come together relatively soon so he can get back to work before the end of the year.
“I’m just waiting for my manager to say something about this,” he said. “October, maybe November. I want to fight three or maybe four times year. This is my big goal.”