Fabricio Werdum is all business heading into UFC 203. Gone is the troll-like persona fans had become accustomed to, as the Brazilian wants to prove his divisional worth and stake his claim as the next No. 1 heavyweight contender.
Werdum will meet Travis Browne in tomorrow night's co-main event, and the former HW champion had some serious words for 'Hapa' at Thursday's pre-fight press conference. "I will break your face, bastard," Werdum told Browne in Portuguese during the staredown. "... I'll break your rib, clown. You know I will break you. You know I will break you. You know that."
While Werdum dropped the insults, there was no change of tone from the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu expert when speaking to MMA Fighting at a media scrum on Friday. Werdum is treating this as the biggest fight of his 14-year career.
"I need this victory. It's important for my goal to fight for the title again," Werdum said, per Guilherme Cruz of MMAF. "I deserved an immediate rematch since I was coming off six wins in a row, but I knew the UFC wouldn't give it to me. Winning this fight, I will deserve it. I will do everything I can to put on a spectacular fight to earn another title shot."
"People associated that happy face campaign to the knockout, so it's not the moment to do that again," he said. "I will always joke around, but the happy face is in the past. I'd do something different. But talking more at the post-fight press conference helps a lot, for sure. Fans like that, some trash talk."
Werdum's 6-fight win streak came to an end when he was knocked out in the first round by Stipe Miocic at UFC 198. The 39-year-old lost his heavyweight title and was criticized for underestimating Miocic. Heading into UFC 203, however, Werdum claims he's never underestimated an opponent and certainly won't be overlooking Browne on Saturday night.
"I can't be overconfident in this fight," he said. "I never entered a fight overconfident. My losses were based on things I did in training, and luck also plays out during the fight. I'm coming off a loss so I can't be overconfident. I might have a slight advantage because I won the last fight, but it's nothing big."
Miocic vs. Overeem will headline tomorrow's pay-per-view and Werdum is leaning towards a victory for 'The Demolition Man'.
"If Overeem shows up like he did against ‘Cigano' [Junior dos Santos], fighting smart and with a good strategy, I think he wins. But if he shows up afraid, like it already happened in the past - you can see in his face and the way he fights - I believe he will get knocked out by Stipe Miocic. If he uses his K-1 and MMA experience, he wins this fight."
UFC 203 will take place tomorrow night, September 10, at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.