Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
Who would have expected this bout a year ago? One guy has earned his stripes by dominating ADCC's and submitting Fedor Emelianenko. The other tore through a surprisingly solid TUF 10 field and has shown a ton of resiliency in his UFC tenure so far. We're gonna find out if the Ultimate Fighter will give Vai Cavalo a rude re-introduction to the UFC when Roy Nelson (16-6, 3-2 UFC) throws down with Fabricio Werdum (14-5-1, 2-2 UFC).
Werdum currently occupies the five slot in the USA Today/BE Consensus Rankings, while Nelson is down at number 14. As mentioned above, pretty much all of Werdum's hype is built off his win over Fedor Emelianenko. He does have solid wins over Antonio Silva and Gabriel Gonzaga, but a win over Nelson isn't sending him rocketing up the charts. Nelson is a different story though, and a win over Werdum would undoubtedly be the biggest of his career. This heavyweight fight will be the co-main event of the night, and will be aired live on pay-per-view. The PPV broadcast begins at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.
How do these two stack up?
Werdum: 34 years old | 6'4" | 78" reach
Nelson: 35 years old | 6'0" | 73" reach
What have these two done recently?
How did these two get here?
Fabricio "Vai Cavalo" Werdum has been an MMA vet for 10 years now, which might surprise you (it surprised me!). He acquitted himself well in Pride, then moved over to the UFC in 2007. His first run in the organization has largely been viewed as a failure by fans because he got Donkey Kong KO'd by current UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos, but wins over Gabriel Gonzaga and Brandon Vera were quite impressive at the time. Three straight wins in Strikeforce, including the win over Fedor, earned him a main event fight against Alistair Overeem that was, for lack of a better word, terrible. Werdum needs this fight to rebuild his credibility, and his status as a top contender at HW rides on his UFC 143 performance.
Roy "Big Country" Nelson is working to overcome your biases. The former IFL heavyweight champion could probably have earned his way onto UFC cards on merit alone, but his belly was his gimmick. Dana White threw him onto TUF 10 and told him to prove himself, and he did exactly that. His KO of Brendan Schaub in the finals was particularly beautiful. Another win over Stefan Struve earned Nelson a huge opportunity against Junior dos Santos, but JDS managed to take him out and win a unanimous decision. A second straight loss, this time to Frank Mir (Big Country was allegedly stricken with pneumonia at the time) was a huge setback, but a win over Mirko Cro Cop at UFC 137 got him back on the right track. A win over Werdum here would go a long way towards proving that he deserves the money matchups.
Why should you care?
There's actually a lot of intrigue here. ADCC winner vs. fat guy doesn't sound like much initially, but Nelson has some serious skills on the ground. On the feet, Nelson has the big right hand but Werdum is probably the better striker overall. Many variables = many possible outcomes. That's why we watch this stuff, right?
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