Does Werdum Deserve a Shot Yet?

By Garth Hansen (garthhansen@mmaratings.net)

Fabricio Werdum has appeared to be the odd man out in the UFC’s latest heavyweight shakedown. The four-man psuedo-tournament soon to open included the richly (rich being the key word) undeserving Brock Lesnar, and Frank Mir, the coach opposite Interim Champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. The other dude in the mix is Randy Couture, who the UFC never disavowed as champ. So Werdum is pissed, because he’s out of the mix. Should he be?

The last fight I saw Werdum in was his TKO win over Brandon Vera. He also holds a TKO win over Gabriel Gonzaga in the UFC, and a loss to Andrei Arlovski. Does this resume qualify him for a title shot? In his two wins he’s looked good. Despite Vera’s complaints, I felt it was a justified stoppage, if not a good one. The win over Gonzaga was dominant. Both wins are over guys who seem to have been mainly hype…two guys who came in with a splash, destroying a few opponents, then tapering off or dropping out altogether.

Werdum says: “I didn’t like that they put Brock Lesnar against Randy Couture…I think that it would be fair to put ‘Minotauro’ Nogueira against Couture — it had to be a fight between these two. Despite having been champion once, I’ve not found it fair that Frank Mir is fighting for the belt. I had two great victories where I was very superior to my opponents, Gabriel Gonzaga and Brandon Vera. I’ve won by myself – not the judges.”

Fair enough. Mir’s inclusion can be chalked up to circumstances…he was supposed to lose to Brock Lesnar and set up some big-money pro-wrestling star PPV with Lesnar’s newfound legitimacy. A timely spine-shot and kneebar nixed that idea. Lesnar’s inclusion, as noted repeatedly, is money. People like the musclebound freak, or like to hate on him.

I don’t think Werdum’s run in the UFC is so spectacular as to make him the set-in-stone #1 contender, by any means. People seem to forget how easily he got handled by Andrei Arlovski. Andrei pretty much toyed with him, and spent the whole fight looking for opportunities knock out the big Brazillian. So, two wins over what appear to be also-rans in the UFC heavyweight division, and one loss to a top five heavyweight. Good, but not great.

Brock Lesnar brings in money. Frank Mir screwed up their plans by winning, in excellent BJJ fashion, Big Nog holds a belt, and Randy holds a belt. Werdum is indeed odd man out, but I don’t think he even makes a strong case to be upset about that.

While his current record puts him in the waiting room for the contender’s area, his next fight is a bit of a slap in the face. One would think they’d put Werdum up against a seasoned heavyweight, or another contender with some Octagon experience, but instead he faces off with Junior “Cigano” dos Santos, a rookie UFC fighter. While dos Santos may or may not end up being a great fighter, he’s unknown to the US public, unlikely to garner much attention short of a spectacular KO, and a step sideways, at best, for Werdum everywhere outside of Brazil.

With the death of EliteXC, there’s a chance for some more accomplished heavyweights who wish to fight in the U.S. to end up on UFC cards, and some intriguing matchups will present themselves. Werdum seems to have been assigned gatekeeper status, a moniker hated by contenders and adored by jobbers. His frustration is justifiable only at being handed a fight that does nothing positive for his career, barring of course something spectacular happening. As far as conclusion in the tournament? Wait in line, and win your fights.


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