Fabricio Werdum’s next fight could be for UFC gold. | Alan Oliveira/Sherdog.com
Brazilian submission specialist Fabricio Werdum will likely be granted the next shot at Cain Velasquez’s UFC heavyweight championship, according to UFC President Dana White.
“It looks like that’s going to be the fight,” White told Fox Sports following UFC 166. However, the UFC boss did not divulge a timetable on when the title showdown might take place.
Velasquez retained his title in Saturday night’s main event, stopping Junior dos Santos in the fifth round of the UFC 166 headliner to put a stamp on their heavyweight trilogy from Houston’s Toyota Center. Much like in their second encounter, Velasquez managed to close the distance against his hard-punching opponent and attack him from close quarters, though “Cigano” did catch the champion coming in with several hard shots throughout the contest.
“There is always stuff I can improve on, but we were expected a tougher Junior. The key for us was to beat him to the punch, and sometimes he was beating us to the punch. That’s what made it hard. The takedowns weren’t there as much, either,” Velasquez told Fox Sports after his victory. “He’s a tough dude. I try to go in there and use my game plan and fight my kind of fight. We just mix well, as far as putting on exciting fights. He’s not that easy to take down, so you’ve got to stand up with him and throw some blows.”
Though Velasquez could not secure his takedowns as easily as he did in his second meeting with dos Santos, he nevertheless employed a highly effective strategy from the clinch, tagging “Cigano” with short, crisp punches on the inside.
“In the second fight, we saw that when he was backing up that I was throwing wide punches. [We thought[ if we could shorten them up and make them more technical, we could land those shots,” said Velasquez. “They don’t have to be big, wild shots. When we broke, I’d throw that one-two and then go back in the clinch again. That was working.”
Velasquez landed the best punch of the fight in the third frame, catching the challenger on the left ear with an overhand right that put him on the canvas. Though dos Santos appeared to be done for, the Brazilian somehow survived and navigated the fourth round before Velasquez dumped him on his head late in round five as a guillotine counter. The champion seized the opportunity and pounded out his dazed foe to retain his belt, which he will next defend against “Vai Cavalo.”
“I’m fine with [fighting Werdum next],” said Velasquez. “I just heard a while ago that he was next in line for a title shot. Werdum is a tough guy. I have the utmost respect for him, as well. That would be a good fight.”