It was a fight that was always meant to go the distance.
Fabricio Werdum beat Travis Browne for the better part of five rounds at UFC on FOX 11, and the Brazilian heavyweight thought ahead of time that taking Browne into deep water would be the way to come out on top.
There was a plan consisting of exploitation in the weeks leading into the UFC main event.
“It was part of my game plan to exploit his cardio situation,” Werdum revealed at the post-fight news conference on Saturday evening. “I knew going in it was going to be tough to submit him or anything of the type because he was such a tough opponent going into deeper rounds, and I knew even if I was going to try something, it would be a couple rounds to do it. So I decided cardio was going to be the way to beat him.”
Werdum showcased his striking against Browne, a direct result of long training sessions with former Chute Boxe coach Rafael Cordeiro. The sessions dedicated to preparation, Werdum said, were longer because this fight meant the winner would gain No. 1 contender status.
Training on certain days lasted six or seven hours, the fighter said. The extended training sessions fostered improvement.
“I improved my training,” Werdum explained. “I trained a lot for this fight because I know this is the step towards the title shot. I’m training every day. I never stop training. I’ve not fought for a long time. My last fight was with [Rodrigo] Nogueira in Brazil. I just [kept training] because I know my dream is the belt. When I [tell people] Tuesday and Thursday I train for six, seven hours, no one believes me. But I just showed in the cage today.”
UFC president Dana White said that he thought Werdum could have finished Browne. There were moments where the Brazilian had his American counterpart eating punches, but those strikes never materialized into finishing blows.
White said his heavyweight victor played it safe in order to ensure his No. 1 contender spot, and added that a broken rib suffered by Browne contributed to the win.
“He played a safe fight,” White proclaimed. “I think he could have finished Travis. They think he had a broken rib in the first round. That would explain it. He definitely has a broken hand.”
Werdum backed White’s claim that he played it safe, saying that he didn’t want to risk too much because he knew Browne had heavy hands that would perhaps steer the fight in the opposite direction.
It was worth it for a shot at gold, however.
“I did a smart game because I know this fight is very important for me, for my next step,” Werdum said. “I just did a smart fight, that’s it.”
And now Werdum moves on to meet heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez for the title at a venue and date to be announced for later this year. Much of the talk surrounding a fight between the two has centered around Mexico City being the location for the bout.
White didn’t confirm the Mexican capital would host the heavyweight title fight, although he has said the UFC won't go to Mexico with Velasquez, and he wouldn’t commit to Velasquez and Werdum — a fluent Spanish speaker — being the TUF: Latin America coaches for the upcoming reality series. But White didn’t necessarily close the door on those option either.
“Anything is possible,” he said.
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