COMMENTARY | Revenge will be on Fabrício Werdum's mind when he squares off against Antônio "Big Nog" Rodrigo Nogueira at "UFC on Fuel TV 10."
The clash between the two Brazilian heavyweights will be the main event of the UFC on Fuel TV 10 fight card set for June 8, at the Paulo Sarasate Gymnasium in Fortaleza, Brazil.
When the two met back in 2006, Nogueira (34-7-1, 21 submissions) dominated their encounter, picking Werdum (16-5-1, 8 submissions) apart with his superior boxing skills. Nogueira knocked Werdum down several times during the fight, and he also seemed to be the better grappler, working in Fabrício's guard with impunity, sweeping or getting back to his feet the few times Werdum managed to drag him down.
Most MMA fans who watched their first encounter weren't really surprised Nogueira got the better of the striking exchanges, considering the fact Werdum relied primarily on his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu skills back then.
"I was a newcomer, but Nogueira was already a champion at the event." Werdum said during a UFC on Fuel TV 10 promo. "He was already very famous in MMA. I was purely a Jiu Jitsu fighter. He defeated me; he used his experience against me as a young new fighter."
Things have changed a lot since 2006.
Werdum has significantly improved his striking, evolving into one of the top heavyweights in MMA right now. He racked up wins against the likes of Fedor Emelianenko and Antonio Silva while fighting under Strikeforce's banner, and his improved striking was evident during his 2011 decision loss to Alistair Overeem, surprisingly, landing more shots during the final round of their encounter.
Given what Werdum was able to accomplish against Overeem, it wasn't that surprising when he brutalized Roy Nelson at UFC 143, handing "Big Country" one of the most vicious beatings in recent UFC history.
Werdum was just as impressive during his next outing against Mike Russow, handing the Chicago police officer his first loss in the Ultimate Fighting Championship via first round TKO.
With his improved striking skills and momentum on his side, Werdum feels the timing is right for him to avenge his loss to one of the few old-school legends still left in the UFC.
"I lost to him, but I learned a lot from that loss," Werdum added. "The main difference for me in this fight is that I've specialized and evolved with my career. Today I'm a more complete professional, and now I'm specializing in Muay Thai as well. … I've been training with Rafael Cordeiro for five years now. That completely changed my game. I'm not saying that I'm a striker now, but I got better at everything like it should be."
The matchup seems to favor Werdum at his point in both men's MMA careers, but given how good Nogueira looked during his last few fights (he even dominated the striking exchanges during his UFC 140 loss to Frank Mir), the fight between the two will probably be a hard-fought, entertaining, and competitive bout.
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