As he makes the final preparations for his rubber match against Alistair Overeem, former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum tells Combate he feels comfortable enough to trade strikes with his opponent, although he still knows his jiu-jitsu is his best asset.
"Yeah, I see myself doing really well in the striking department,” Werdum said. “I've been training with master Rafael Cordeiro for 10 years. I don't mean to brag, but I see I evolved a lot. I would fight Overeem standing up, I see big possibilities of knocking him out. If I see an opportunity, I'll take him to the ground, obviously, to use my jiu-jitsu, but if it remains on the feet, I'll be fine."
Although Werdum was defeated in their last encounter in 2011, he blames the loss on being overtrained and feels like he'll be able to pull off another win this time around.
"Our first fight went great. I was able to submit him,” Werdum said. “The second one, I was overtrained, I went too far. I had to two fights cancelled and when the third one came around, I didn't even believe it was going to happen. I couldn't fight because I couldn't find the strength to be on my feet. I was criticized for pulling guard, but it was all I had to save me.
"There's this saying that goes like this 'only jiu-jitsu can save you', and it's true, because I wasn't knocked out or submitted. Jiu-jitsu helped me a lot then. It was a bad fight because Overeem didn't dictate the fight like he was supposed to. He won, but it was a horrible fight, the crowd booed all the time. People tell me I should've kept it standing, but I had no strength. I was a warrior, I had nothing else to do but to defend myself."
Fabricio Werdum is expected to take on Alistair Overeem at UFC 213, on July 8, in Las Vegas, Nevada. The card will be headlined by a women’s bantamweight title fight between champion Amanda Nunes and challenger Valentina Shevchenko.