UFC's New Heavyweight Acquisition: Fabricio Werdum
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Every fighter has a different reason for fighting. Some love it for the violence. Some love it for the fame. Others get a high off being alive in a cage. In Fabricio Werdum’s case, his first encounter in fighting was being triangle choked in front of his girlfriend. Since then, Werdum has acquired a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, a number of wins internationally, and now has signed a contract with the world's premier fighting organization, the UFC.
Fabricio Werdum Fighting Style – Strengths
Fabricio Werdum has garnered the respect of the most elite fighters around the world. He was recruited by Team CroCop to be the Brazilian Jiu-jitsu instructor and coach for Mirko and his team, while being a full-time fighter and accumulating wins under the Pride organization over notable fighters Alexander Emelianenko, Alistair Overeem, Tom Erikson, and UFC Veteran Gabriel Gonzaga.
Werdum’s weapon of choice is the ground game. He is able to execute a number of submission chokes and locks from nearly any position on the ground. His ground technique was fully venerated when he fought against Brazilian Jiu-jitsu master Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, the same man who arm-barred teammate Mirko “CroCop” for the Interim Pride Heavyweight Title. Despite Werdum losing his match to Nogueira, it venerated Werdum’s Brazilian Jiu-jitsu technique as truly one of the best in the world. Werdum gave the more experienced veteran, Nogueira, a run for his money, with Werdum gaining dominant position many times and also getting out of close calls situations where, had he been only slightly more average, he would surely have been submitted.
The fight proved to many that Werdum is a world class Brazilian Jiu-jitsu fighter and any fighter who faces him needs to bring their “A-game”. Furthermore, Werdum is agile, quick, and exhibits an improving stand-up game under the tutelage of the coaches in Team CroCop and is constantly improving due to his young age and his expanding arsenal of fighting techniques. Therefore, for any fighter who believes they can simply “sprawl out of it” needs to think again and truly train their sprawl technique, as if their life depended on it.
Fabricio Werdum Fighting Style – Weaknesses
Since Werdum has worked on his ground technique most of his life, it is inevitable that his stand-up technique is quite green. The sole reason Werdum lost to Nogueira was because Nogueira executed better boxing technique (which he honed in years of tutelage with the Cuban Olympic Boxing team). However, the disparity in Werdum’s stand-up technique is quickly becoming smaller as he trains with the most feared striker in the MMA world, Mirko “CroCop”.
Nogueira also exposed Werdum’s very “Brazilian” approach to the ground game where Werdum’s takedowns were quite simplistic and arcane counterparts to the scientific techniques used in freestyle wrestling. Such unrefined technique can only prove harmful as it opens room for “wildcard variables”, like floating knees or kicks that Werdum might run into while trying to take his opponents down.
As Werdum excels in the MMA world, takedown technique is something he truly should work on in order to become a better and more complete fighter. However, the young Brazilian is very hungry and, as he delves deeper into the world of MMA, it will only catalyze him to improve his game, especially when he debuts against one of the sultans of the UFC heavyweight division, Andrei Arlovski.
April 21st Clash v. Andrei Arlovski
When Fabricio Werdum makes his UFC debut against the “Pitbull”, Andrei Arlovski, it will be a clash of styles once again with Arlovski wanting to keep this fight on the feet and Werdum on the ground. Although both fighters show good crossover in the other fighter's forte, Arlovski is probably the more complete fighter. He has a history with Sambo training, a style similar to Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, only Sambo focuses more on throws (like Judo) and joint-locks (both arms and legs) than chokes.
Another aspect going against the young Werdum is Werdum’s lack of cage experience, whereas his opponent, Arlovski, once held gold around his waste for quite some time. Many might draw connections between Werdum and Marcio Cruz, both very ground-savvy and having similar fighting styles, with Arlovski decisively beating Cruz in his last encounter. However, Werdum is no slouch on the ground or on his feet, and is one fighter who is not easily intimidated by stand-up prowess, with the examples of Alexander Emelianenko and Alistair Overeem (both fighters tout exceptional stand-up technique).
If Arlovski can bring his usual ferocity, thoroughly bush up on his ground technique, frustrate Werdum standing up, and sprawl out of Werdum’s shots, Arlovski is one more step higher in the Heavyweight rankings. Werdum must do everything and anything in his power to get Arlovski on the ground without getting knocked out. If Werdum is successful, Arlovski might survive a barrage of submission attempts a few times, but it will eventually catch him.
- Bardia Mehrabian, BuddyTV Staff Columnist