The two first met in the Pride 2006 Open Weight Grand Prix Quarterfinals in Saitama, Japan. That night, “Big Nog” earned a unanimous decision victory over the still-green Werdum.
On Saturday night in Fortaleza, Brazil, the capacity crowd at Ginásio Paulo Sarasate were witness to one of the most anticipated rematches in heavyweight history, as Nogueira vs. Werdum 2 headlined the night’s UFC on Fuel TV 10 fight card.
Round one opened with “Vai Cavalo” throwing pace-setting leg kicks to Nogueira’s lead leg. Almost immediately, Werdum looked to clinch with the pressuring Nogueira. Securing a takedown seconds into the opening frame, the two were immediately off to a ground battle.
As Werdum had full mount, Nogueira scrambled, eventually regaining half guard. Werdum worked various ground and pound, but Nogueira secured a leg and a mad dash to the feet ensued.
Back on the feet, Nogueira pressured Werdum with an assortment of popping jabs and vicious dirty boxing from the clinch against the cage. By most accounts, Nogueira went on to win round one, albeit closely.
Round two saw Werdum once again open with leg kicks, but a short time later he unleashed a hellish overhand right to Minotauro’s jaw. Unfazed, the almost three-to-one underdog Nogueira plodded forward, putting on more pressure, looking to once again secure a clinch against the cage to work his dirty boxing.
As impressive as Nogueira’s resilience was, in the end, it was no match for Werdum’s relentless ground attack.
Midway through the second stanza, while working from the clinch, Werdum took the 37-year-old former Pride and UFC heavyweight champion down. A scramble ensued. Werdum calmly worked into position, face down on the mat, with his self-admitted idol within striking range. Employing a belly-down armbar, Werdum latched on to Nogueira’s arm and strained for the tap.
At 2:41 of round two, it was all over, as Werdum cranked, and Nogueira gave up.
In one fell swoop, Fabricio Werdum had submitted his idol, avenged a loss, and earned a much-needed third win in a row inside the vaunted Octagon.
Post-fight, the Porto Alegre, Brazil, native was visibly pleased to get the submission over a man who had not only defeated him once before, but has also defined an era of ground fighters in mixed martial arts.
“I was able to get onto his back and the armbar and then I was able to make him submit, and that made me very happy,” said the former two-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Champion and two-time Abu Dhabi Champion.
Despite having won every major grappling tournament in the world, a submission win over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira is a feather in the cap for even the most decorated of champions… something that was not lost on Werdum as he discussed his idol.
“It’s a great honor for me to be here. He is in fact an idol for all Brazilians,” said the 35-year-old. “It was my second fight with him and it was a very tough fight.”
With a three-fight winning streak to his credit, and a potential shot at UFC heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez on the horizon, a future match with the champ is not something Werdum shies away from. As a matter of fact, it’s quite the contrary; he’s looking forward to it.
“That’s exactly what I want. I’m training very hard for that. I just want the UFC to give me the chance to show I’m the best in the world.”
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