Fabricio Werdum made a grand return to the UFC, lighting up Roy Nelson with devastating knees and punches on his way to a unanimous decision win in the co-main event of UFC 143. Nelson did land his big right hand once in the second and stunned Werdum, but overall it was mostly Werdum landing damaging strikes repeatedly. A big knee in the first opened up a large cut over Nelson's eye, and Nelson showed a ton of heart by fighting through many more huge shots. All three judges had it 30-27 for Vai Cavalo, and Werdum cemented his spot in the top tier of the UFC heavyweight division once again with the big win.
The pace was measured early, with Werdum landing a knee and kicks. Nelson slipped, and Werdum immediately took his back. Nelson got back up, but ate a big knee from Werdum. Nelson responded with an uppercut, but Werdum came back with another knee while controlling Nelson in the Thai clinch. Nelson was bleeding from that shot, and continued to eat knees in the clinch. After some time against the cage, the ref separated them and checked Roy's cut, but he's good to go. Nelson caught a kick and landed a punch, which put Werdum on his back. Nelson went into Werdum's guard and Fabricio looked for a triangle, but couldn't cinch it up. Werdum continued to land strikes and even threw a wild spinning kick to close out the round.
Werdum came out again throwing knees, which stumbled Roy briefly. Nelson continued to throw one shot at a time, as he's known to do, while Werdum put together some nice combinations. The pace slowed halfway through the round, but each fighter had their moments on the feet. Nelson continued to walk down Fabricio, and finally landed one of his huge right hands, but Werdum came back with some kicks. Nelson ended the round with a nice right over the top.
Werdum opened up the round with some strikes, and shot in for a takedown. Roy stood him up and locked on a standing guillotine, but Werdum got out and opened up with some more knees and power strikes. Werdum looked for the Thai clinch again and rocked Nelson with a couple of knees and a left hand, but Nelson just took it. Werdum landed a monster front kick to the face, and it didn't even faze Big Country. The pace slowed again over the latter half of the round, but Werdum was still landing big shots. The fight closed with Nelson missing on a couple of big rights.
Werdum was making his return to the UFC after a 2-2 stint in 2007-08. He was coming off a loss to Alistair Overeem in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix semi-finals. Nelson's last fight was a knockout win over Mirko Filipovic at UFC 137.