In what was a rematch of a PRIDE fight from 2006 at UFC on Fuel TV 10, Fabricio “Vai Cavalo” Werdum and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira went to war again – this time in their home country of Brazil, where the crowd probably wasn’t sure who to cheer for. Typically, the UFC does USA vs. Brazil match-ups, and with both fighters being icons of combat sports in Brazil, the crowd was on the fence.
Vai Cavalo and “Minotauro” were both trying to get the upper hand on one another in the grappling aspect. There were some slick scrambles to start off before the older “Big Nog” began to tire out in Round 2. It became clear that Werdum had the advantage when they were wrestling around. By the time Werdum secured the back, he wasn’t focused on a rear naked choke. Despite having only one hook in, he wasn’t easy to shake off, and Werdum transitioned from the back to an armbar that bent Big Nog’s arm backward, bringing the bout to its end.
So what’s next for Werdum, you ask?
Well, there’s really not a long list of possible opponents. Now that he’s secured his spot in the heavyweight ranks, and with Junior dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez lined up, who will the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt face after avenging his loss to Minotauro with an armbar?
Many fans are calling for Daniel Cormier. If Werdum is the one to knock Cormier down to light-heavyweight, then sure, he can face Cormier. But be ready to lose another top contender and have the whole Jon Jones vs Rashad Evans saga happen all over again.
Are you ready for that? Me neither.
You’ve got Roy Nelson winning fights by knockout left and right, yet “Big Country” can’t even find himself a top-ten opponent to fight. Werdum could find himself in the same position as Nelson, who Werdum defeated by unanimous decision in his big return from Strikeforce.
Shall the UFC hold off on booking Cain vs. JDS III, Werdum would find himself the most meaningful contender to challenge Velasquez for the heavyweight crown. They can decide to put Werdum in there with lesser competition until the time is right for him to fight for the title.
A heavyweight contest between the newly signed Josh Barnett and the former two-time champion in Frank Mir looms. The winner of Mir-Barnett is probably the only fight that makes sense for Werdum.
We’ll have to wait and see how things unravel in the heavyweight category.