Fabrcio Werdum waited seven years to finally get a second shot at Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, but he certainly made the most of it during the main event of UFC on Fuel 10 Saturday night in Brazil.
When the pair of heavyweights first met in Pride Fighting Championships back in 2006, Nogueira was the veteran facing a much younger and inexperienced version of Werdum.
This time around, Werdum was the rising star, planted in the top five of the division and hoping to secure his spot in the title contender's race with a win over the legendary former UFC and Pride champion.
While both fighters come from a Brazilian jiu-jitsu background, Werdum felt going into the fight that his ground game was superior, and that's where he'd have the biggest advantage over Nogueira.
It worked out well because Werdum locked up a fight-ending armbar. Nogueira gave up via verbal submission after struggling to get loose of the hold.
"I feel great. Nogueira is a legend in the sport," Werdum said about his opponent during the UFC on Fuel 10 post-fight show. "He’s my good friend. I’m very happy with the win but he punches very hard. When I saw the opportunity to go on the ground, I got the armbar."
"My strategy was to fight with force. I got him on the ground because I had more possibilities on the ground. When I punched him, he went on his back and I got the armbar.”
With the win, Werdum secures his spot as the top contender in the heavyweight division behind champion Cain Velasquez and current challenger Junior Dos Santos. Those two fighters are expected to square off later this year in their third bout to close out their trilogy for the heavyweight title.
Currently, Velasquez and Dos Santos have each won one time, so this will be a pivotal third and final rubber match.
That unfortunately leaves Werdum as the odd man out either waiting for several months to possibly get the winner of that fight, or taking the risk of fighting again in the interim and risking a title shot.
Werdum already sat out a full year while taking the opportunity to coach on The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 2 alongside Nogueira. If he sits and waits for the winner of Velasquez vs. Dos Santos, which still hasn't been scheduled, Werdum could end up being out again for several months.
“I think if the UFC gave me the opportunity, for sure I’d bring a lot now," Werdum said about a potential title shot. "I think I’d wait and see who won the fight between Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos.”
It appears for now that Werdum will play the waiting game until the heavyweight title picture is settled. While no date has been set for the third fight between Velasquez and Dos Santos, the earliest the bout could take place would likely be September, with all other fight cards already having established main events between now and then.
Even if the heavyweight title fight takes place in September, it's not likely the winner would return until the end of 2013, so Werdum could face another lengthy time off if that's the case.
Now it's up to UFC matchmaker Joe Silva and UFC President Dana White to determine if Werdum should sit and get the winner, or if they will keep him busy later this year.
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.
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