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43-year-old Fabricio Werdum negotiating with PFL, sees himself fighting ‘two more years’

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Former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum is not ready to hang up the gloves just yet.

UFC Fight Night: Werdum v Gustafsson Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum is still a free agent. After tapping out Alexander Gustafsson back in July, ‘Vai Cavalo’ completed his contract with the promotion and decided to test the open market. Although some negotiations with Bellator were initiated, it looks like the 43-year-old is headed in a different direction.

In an interview with Combate, Werdum revealed that talks with Bellator did not go as expected, which opened the path for Fabricio to consider another big promotion: the Professional Fighters League. Even though no contract has been yet signed, the seasoned veteran showed some interest in competing in the PFL’s heavyweight grand prix to score their one million dollar prize.

“I didn’t close the deal with Bellator because they wanted me to rematch Fedor Emelianenko in my first fight. I respect Fedor a lot. I can’t say he turned the fight down, but this negotiation with Fedor didn’t go through because of their side. Bellator wanted that to be the first fight to cause an impact, then we would close a deal for four or five more fights.

“I’ve also heard that Ali Abdelaziz (Werdum’s manager) has been talking with the PFL and I might join their tournament. I don’t know if people know it that well in Brazil, but it’s like a tournament. You enter, you fight four times and if you win those four fights, you win one million dollars, plus your purse. You win the purse that’s been previously established and the one million dollars. That made me pretty interested. It’s good, right?”

A veteran with 34 professional mixed martial arts fights under his belt, Werdum has a competition career that spans over 23 years if you include his Brazilian jiu-jitsu time. He might be coming close to the end, but the way the former UFC champion sees it, he might still hang around for two more years, if things go his way.

“A while ago I only saw myself fighting twice more. Because of everything that’s happened in my career. I’ve been fighting for 23 years. I had some ups and downs. I always say that life oscilates. Not just in fighting, it’s like that for every profession. I entertained that thought, but after my huge win over Gustafsson in Abu Dhabi. I was so focused for so many reasons. That was special. It was the last fight on my UFC contract, So I had to come out on top, walk out through the front door. And I really did. Him being a 33-year-old and me being 43. I think the UFC’s plan was like: ‘Lets move Gustafsson to heavyweight. Werdum is leaving, it’ll be good for the event, right?’ I think that’s normal, it’s a business. But I wanted to change the plans, to leave with a victory, a good one.

“Now I really think about fighting for two more years.” Werdum continued. “I think I have two more years left in me to fight, because I don’t have any major injuries. I have broken fingers several times, toes, too. Nothing really serious, though, No bigger bones. I haven’t really taken many hits in my career. Because of jiu-jitsu, because of the way I learned personal defense, I was able to defend myself better than others, you know? Of course, I’ve been knocked out before, but it was little damage considering I’ve been doing this for 23 years. So I still have more to show. I think two years will be enough time.”

Werdum (24-9) left the UFC with a 10-4 record in the promotion, which included victories over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Mark Hunt, Cain Velasquez and Alexander Gustafsson, among others. His last loss happened in May 2020, when he dropped a split decision to Alexey Oleynik.