I've seen plenty of prattle online about Fedor Emelianenko "ducking" the mighty Alistair Overeem and taking an easier fight with jiu jitsu wizard Fabricio Werdum. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is, among heavyweights not in the UFC, it's hard to argue that anyone who is licensed to fight in California deserves a shot at the best more than Werdum-and certainly not Overeem, a man more media myth than top contender.
Since 2008, Overeem has a handful of wins in MMA, almost none of them over top 10 opponents, almost none of them meaningful in the grand scheme of things. He's beaten Mark Hunt long after Hunt stopped trying, James Thompson (post Kimbo and in the middle of losing 7 of 8), and the 39 year old shell of Kazayuki Fujita. None of this was particularly impressive. What is so great then about the Dutch behemoth? Hulking muscles. Incredible mass. Veins. MMA promoters and fans have had a hard on for muscular physiques since Royce made Ken tap the mat way back at UFC 1. Nothing has changed.
Werdum, on the other hand, doesn't look like he has just come out of a GNC with a bag the size of a Mini Cooper. He's just a solid professional fighter. In the last five years he's lost a handful of times, but only to the very best. Nogueira. An Arlovski who, while the world's biggest metrosexual, was also the second best heavyweight in the UFC. And finally, the top young prospect in the world, Junior Dos Santos. He impressed everyone with his tough fight against Antonio Silva at Strikeforce in Chicago last year and has wins over Gabriel Gonzaga and Brandon Vera-back when those two men mattered.
And then, there's the head to head battle. Even assuming all things are equal (and I'd argue Werdum has the more impressive resume as a heavyweight MMA fighter) Fabricio has the ultimate chit-a head to head win over Overeem a few years ago in Pride. Werdum made him tap to a kimura, the first and last time Overeem was ever submitted by a hold, choke, or lock in his ten year MMA career.
That's what makes Werdum a worthy test for Fedor (or anyone else for that matter). It's the submission pedigree that earned the Brazilian two ADCC titles and two Brazilian Jiu Jitsu championships. This is a very dangerous man. At 6-4 and a solid 240, he has the size to submit Fedor in the right circumstances. If the Russian is as bored and out of shape as he looks, if he's been enjoying married life at the expense of training, if he's looking too far forward into a blissful retirement, Werdum could pull off the ultimate upset. If he does, he will have earned the opportunity. In an ideal world we'd see Fedor against Lesnar, Carwin, and Dos Santos. We don't live in that world. Werdum is the best available fighter out there. He's also the guy with the best chance of beating the "Last Emperor." He deserves the shot.
After the jump, the fight between Overeem and Werdum in Pride and an epic grappling battle with Roger Gracie.
Fabricio Werdum vs Alistair Overeem Part 1 of 2 (via Lakemen)
Fabricio Werdum vs Alistair Overeem Part 2 of 2 (via Lakemen)
Roger Gracie vs. Fabrício "Vai Cavalo" Werdum (1 of 3) (via PedroLMariano2)
Roger Gracie vs. Fabrício "Vai Cavalo" Werdum (2 of 3) (via PedroLMariano2)
Roger Gracie vs. Fabrício "Vai Cavalo" Werdum (3 of 3) (via PedroLMariano2)