Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty ImagesFabricio Werdum held his own against Junior dos Santos -- for a while, at least.HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. -- Less than two weeks away from a huge showdown against Alistair Overeem in Dallas, top-3 ranked heavyweight Fabricio Werdum can't avoid focusing some of his attention on Vancouver this weekend when Junior dos Santos and Shane Carwin vie for No. 1 contender status in the UFC.
The 33-year-old Brazilian, who is more comfortable speaking Spanish than Portuguese after living in Spain for 10 years, said he's rooting hard for dos Santos to defeat Carwin at UFC 131. This isn't just about pulling for his countryman, either.
"I hope Cigano wins his fight," Werdum said through a translator after a frenetic training session at Kings MMA. "I was beating him when we fought. I have a big dream that Cigano wins the UFC belt and I win the Strikeforce Grand Prix and we fight to see who's the best. It's going to be revenge for me."
Werdum (14-4-1) has won three in a row since dos Santos stopped him with punches in 2008, a loss that drove him from the ranks of the UFC into Strikeforce. The long-limbed Brazilian jiu-jitsu champion is best known, of course, for being the first man to legitimately defeat Fedor Emelianenko when he tapped the Russian with a triangle choke in June '10. Almost a full year later, after surgery to repair a damaged elbow and delays brought on by Strikeforce's scheduling quirks, "Vai Cavalo" gets Overeem, the current Strikeforce champion, in a nontitle bout that could propel him into the semifinals of the tournament against Antonio Silva.
"The best heavyweight in the world will be decided when the winner of the Strikeforce Grand Prix and the UFC champion unify the titles," Werdum said. "There are a lot of tough fighters in UFC and a lot of tough fighters in Strikeforce. Now you can put them together and see who's the best."
After Zuffa made a welterweight fight between Strikeforce champion Nick Diaz and UFC king Georges St. Pierre, the expectation among fans and media is for the Las Vegas promotional juggernaut to do something similar at heavyweight, however UFC president Dana White reiterated on Thursday he's unsure how the organization will handle the division once the tournament is complete.
Werdum clearly has his preference.
The winner between dos Santos (12-1) and Carwin (12-1) is expected to challenge Cain Velasquez (9-0) for the UFC belt before the end of the year.