Fabricio Werdum entered the Octagon as a heavy underdog last night in the main event of UFC 188 against Cain Velasquez.
He was facing a heavyweight champion in Cain Velasquez, who was once seen as all but unbeatable — first winning the UFC title back in 2010.
The bout was held in Mexico City, in what was perceived as a victorious “homecoming” of sorts for the Mexican-American Velasquez, who was fighting in his ancestral homeland for the first time.
So, the Brazilian Werdum, who was cut from the UFC in 2009 at age 32, only to be re-signed and climb the ladder to interim heavyweight champion, was widely predicted to exit the cage a loser.
The thing is, he didn’t. Instead, he exited the undisputed heavyweight champion.
The bout saw Werdum and Velasquez both scoring in standup exchanges, with all three judges scoring the first two rounds 19-19.
But in the third round, the former Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion Werdum secured a guillotine choke as Velasquez lurched forward. A tap at 2:13 of the stanza gave the bout, and the undisputed title, to Werdum.
Velasquez may have struggled with a combination of the high altitude and a long layoff due to injuries — most recently, a torn meniscus.
He’ll have a chance to return. But last night belonged to the underdog Werdum, who has now defeated the two fighters arguably seen as the best MMA heavyweights of all time: Velasquez, and Fedor Emelianenko. Werdum defeated the former, who dominated the PRIDE circuit during Japanese MMA’s heyday, back in 2009.
For a full play-by-play account of UFC 188, please see Dana Becker’s coverage at http://www.cagedinsider.com/ufc/all-your-ufc-188-coverage-and-results/