The fight was just announced, and the collective 'WTF?' from MMA fans seems fairly unanimous. Most seemed to be of the opinion that Russow deserved a step up, but many think that Werdum is too big of a step up. Fabricio currently sits at #5 on the Consensus rankings. This doesn't seem like a matchup anyone was expecting, I can certainly say I wasn't. But the more I think about it, the more it seems like a perfectly sensible matchup.
I'm pretty much going to take this from the point of view of 'Selling' Russow. Werdum is deserving to fight just about anyone who isn't the champ...Russow is the one that people don't think should get this matchup at this point. But there are a few points of interest regarding Russow that I feel make him 'deserving' of this fight.
- Fabricio Werdum is #5 - That's one a lot of people bring up, 'Russow shouldn't be fighting a top five guy right now', but Russow is #17 himself. Rampage was ranked #5 and Bader was ranked #16 going into their fight...look how that turned out. Bader had just showed that he could thoroughly crush the Jason Brilz-es of the world, so it was time for a step up. The same can be said of Mike Russow at this point.
- Mike Russow is 4-0 in the UFC - Of the 4 opponents he's defeated two of them, Madsen and Duffee, were undefeated before facing Russow. Also, let's not forget the '8 fight win streak and you get a title shot' rule...the UFC can't let 'un-exciting winners' like Jacob Volkman and Russow keep getting wins under the radar with an unwritten rule like that. They are going to need a top contender eventually.
- Russow is 15-1 and on an 11 fight win streak - No matter how you slice it or what kind of competition you are facing...having only one loss(to Sergei Kharitonov no less) and having finished 9 fights of his current 11 fight win streak is not bad at all. Russow is 35, he's been at the 'slow burn' thing for long enough, he keeps winning, he deserves a chance to see if he belongs near the very top or not.
- We'll finally get a Mike Russow that HASN'T been inactive - Mike Russow has essentially had to deal with a measure of cage-rust every time he's fought for a while now. This will be the quickest turnaround he's had between fights in years. Everyone knows how inactivty can effect a fighter, so I'll personally be quite interested in how a 'sharp' Mike Russow fairs against Werdum.
So there you have it. I'm sure I'm sounding like a bit of a Russow-mark for this, but that really isn't the case. This doesn't strike me as anything other than a rather unexpected matchup that is the result of one fighter getting a big step up against a rather established contender. I had my fingers crossed for 'Werdum vs Mir' for a while...but with the announcements of Mir vs Cain and Russow vs Werdum, that's flown out the window. Considering who is booked up, who is available, and who is coming off of a loss, I don't think there is much of anything worth complaining about regarding this matchup.