Since Fabricio Werdum is no longer in the role of the villain fighting the Mexican champion on hostile territory, he has fully embraced the role of the adopted son fighting for a world title - near-death experience be damned.
Originally, Werdum was scheduled to meet heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez in one of the more anticipated main events of the year. However, injuries would see the champ withdraw from the contest, which opened up the doors for Mark Hunt to stumble into an interim title shot against Werdum instead.
While the news initially disappointed Werdum, he decided to remain focused on winning the title and that allowed him to maintain his motivation.
"I was a little bit sad in the beginning when I first got the news," Werdum told Ariel Helwani through a translator. "Then I spoke with my team and we decided that we will keep the focus on the belt."
Werdum's pre-fight troubles did not end there. When the Brazilian first arrived in Mexico, there was a gas leak in the house he had rented to stay in and that resulted in him being rushed to hospital, where he was hours away from death.
"This accident happened on the first day that I was here in the house that I rented," he explained. "We really almost died. Doctor said two hours more and we were all done - everybody that was close to the gas, at least. I had to go to the hospital and get oxygen, but that was the first day so I've recovered from that."
Asked whether a victory on Saturday night at UFC 180 would signal the biggest win over his career, Werdum was reluctant to place that potential outcome over his staggering victory against Fedor Emelianenko in Strikeforce.
"I can't answer this yet. So far, my victory over Fedor [Emelianenko] was the biggest in my career"