It’s safe to say former Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight king Fabricio Werdum’s last fight against Alexander Volkov didn’t go to plan. Heading into the bout, his game plan was simple: avoid boxing with the decorated striker and use combos to set his opponent up so he could take the match to the ground.
The game plan seemed to work from the start with Werdum securing a relatively easy early takedown. Once on the ground, most fans would have predicted it to be game over considering Werdum’s credentials as a jiu-jitsu practitioner. Werdum admitted to MMA Fighting that it was his lack of patience that ultimately led to his downfall and he was sapped for energy the further it went.
”Not taking anything away from Volkov, he fought and defended well on the ground, but I think that patience was my worst enemy in this fight,” Werdum told MMA Fighting. “If I had more patience, I think the fight would have been different. I came back up trading punches with him right away, and I don’t think that was necessary. Breathe a little more. But that’s easy to say after the fight, but in there I’m the one that is feeling it.
”I imposed my rhythm for three rounds, and I think I won the first three rounds, but I needed to breathe more,” he continued. “Like when you’re playing on PlayStation and your energy goes down and then goes back up again. I got back up and my energy was too low to trade punches like that. Again, not taking anything away from Volkov.”
While “Vai Cavalo” believes patience was a key factor, he said the elbow he received in the opening round from Volkov affected him for the rest of the fight.
”Another thing that disturbed me was my eye, he hit me with an elbow in the first round and that bothered me,” Werdum said. “In the third round, he hit me and opened a cut right below my eye, and I was going on autopilot. That blow affected my performance a lot, and that’s Volkov’s merit.”
Although Werdum was successful early in the fight with single leg takedowns, he then switched it up by going in for the single but instead he pulled guard in an effort to sweep his opponent. It worked on a number of occasions although he took some damage in trying to pull off the manoeuvre.
“That half-guard technique is something I do that surprises a lot of people because they are not used to that in MMA, and it’s natural for me,” Werdum said. “Every time I did that I was able to sweep him, and I even took his back.”
During the fight, the Brazilian managed to get the back of Volkov, although his patience once again let him down as a result of the damage he’d taken and ultimately wasn’t unable to execute the submission.
”I went for the armbar, something I always do, but I watched the fight later and realized that my leg was not in the right place,” Werdum said. “I had taken a lot of punches and was bleeding a lot, so that didn’t help me. I thought I had both hooks in, but one of my legs was under his body, the hook wasn’t in, so I lost pressure on the armbar so that’s why he escaped so well.
”I didn’t realize during the fight that I didn’t have both hooks in. I took the risk and tried to submit him, I could have stayed a little longer there. Like I said, patience was my worst enemy in this fight.”
Werdum has been quite active in the heavyweight division fighting four times in the space of eight months. As for now, he’s looking to recover and refocus on getting another shot at the title.
“I want to recover and get back in there as soon as possible,” Werdum said. “I have to talk to Rafael Cordeiro, with my team, with Ali (Abdelaziz), to decide when I’ll come back. I know that I’m one step away from the belt now, but I don’t lose hope. I have no doubts that I can become champion again one day. Of course that it will take two or three fights to get this chance now. I can’t talk about the belt now, I know I’m a few steps behind now.
”It will take some time, but I really believe I will fight for the belt. I believe I will fight for two or three years more. I never thought about retiring because of a loss like this. You have two options in a fight, you either win or lose, and this time I wasn’t able to win.”