Where on earth is Fabricio Werdum?
September, 22, 2012
By Chuck Mindenhall
Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty ImagesWith Daniel Cormier still without an opponent, Fabricio Werdum, right, could make perfect sense.Frank Mir is out of his cross-promotional fight with Daniel Cormier, which falls right in with the injury vortex of 2012.
Incredulous? We shot right past incredulous in April or May. In September, we are numb to injury dropouts (or at least should be).
The sad truth is that the UFC as an entity, for all its swagger coming into the year with broadcast deals and global inundation, is limping along. And the Joe Silva/Sean Shelby matchmaking duo have become expert revisionists, a distinction they'd rather not have.
But this one hurt in different ways. It was a barrier-buster UFC/Strikeforce event that felt a little like back when Chuck Liddell made his cameo in Pride. Mir as interloper. Cormier as wrecking ball. One a game ex-champ, the other a foreboding wind that raises arm hair.
Yet all that's just the hype play. The bigger storyline that went away: Finally an intriguing fight in Strikeforce not involving Ronda Rousey. That felt good to think about, at least while it lasted.
Cormier, who wrestled at Oklahoma State, wants to stay on the card since it's a return to his collegiate roots. In the dearth of viable heavyweight opponents -- particularly in Strikeforce, which just underwent an "everything must go" clearance sale on big men -- who will Zuffa stick in there to face Cormier? Anybody?
Surely we're not back to Tim Sylvia. He was the guy -- the original guy -- then he wasn't. And that was telling.
Booking Sylvia meant simply passing the time. When Mir was introduced as the guy to cross the line, we knew Zuffa meant business. We weren't doing retreads against Cormier; we were doing true life impositions.
Mir's knee shut business down. And with no other viable top ten opponent available -- yet Cormier still ready/willing to fight on Nov. 3 -- why not ring up Fabricio Werdum? He's in Colombia right now doing ambassador work for the UFC, trying to get events into theaters.
Right now he's a pitchman in Bogota. In other words, he’s idle.
Better yet, he's willing.
Werdum's been looking for a bump-up in competition since beating Mike Russow at UFC 147. Why are we collectively sleeping on Werdum?
Over his last six fights, he's won five times. Of those five casualties, most are onto bigger and better things while Werdum bides his time, just as quiet as humanly possible for somebody right in the thick of things.
There's Roy Nelson, who got hammered for three brutal rounds by Werdum at UFC 143, coaching opposite Shane Carwin for the new season of the "Ultimate Fighter". There's Antonio Silva, who is a main event in Minneapolis in October. Werdum defeated him, too. It was a stevedore's effort, but he nicked up "Bigfoot" pretty good.
There's Fedor Emelianenko, whose myth hissed out of him like a punctured tire when Werdum duped him to the ground in San Jose. Werdum pulls one of the greatest upsets in MMA history, and yet it's Fedor being linked to rumors of a Lesnar superclash (even if it's mostly fantasy).
It's arguable that Werdum's lone loss in the last three years -- against Overeem in the Strikeforce grand prix quarterfinals -- was actually a victory. He outstruck Overeem on the feet, but made the mistake of pleading with Overeem for a ground game which sat bunk with the judges. Had he just continued to nickel and dime on the feet with the trust in his hands he had with Nelson, maybe Cormier -- who replaced Overeem -- never finds his way to the tournament.
Ric Fogel for ESPN.comUnbeaten Daniel Cormier was a late replacement added to the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix. Now he awaits a replacement opponent of his own due to Frank Mir's sudden injury.
And in all of this, the heavyweight division's most accomplished jiu-jitsu player has shown he's developed some formidable hands. Silva, Overeem, Nelson and Russow (whom he TKO'd) have been alerted. If Mir could crossover with no better options, then surely Werdum can, too.
Werdum told ESPN.com that he's ready for that Cormier fight, if it's offered to him. He's made it public with other outlets, as well. The Zuffa brass appreciates enthusiasm of this kind. They have traditionally rewarded guys who step up when needed.
And isn't Werdum the meanest kind of volunteer? Cormier, with all the tailwind and hype, would find himself in a fight that he could feasibly lose. What more could you ask of the matchmaking in this latest predicament?