Fabricio Werdum vs. Travis Browne: An Early Head-to-Toe Breakdown
Red-hot heavyweights Travis Browne and Fabricio Werdum are officially set to do battle at UFC on Fox 11 in April.
As the quintessential top contenders in the division, the winner of their showdown will more than likely challenge champion Cain Velasquez at the end of 2014 or the start of 2015.
Needless to say, this is a big opportunity for both fighters.
For Browne, a 31-year-old knockout specialist who is hellbent on solidifying his spot in the sport, a victory over an elite veteran like Werdum would be monumental.
For Werdum, an aging 36-year-old submission guru, a victory over a rising superstar would remind people that he's still one of the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet.
In any case, the Hawaiian and the Brazilian are going to wage unfathomable carnage when they meet inside the Octagon. Here's an early head-to-toe breakdown of their matchup in Orlando.
At 6'7", Browne is one of the most physically imposing and versatile heavyweights in the UFC.
But what makes him even more dangerous between the links is that he knows how to use his natural prowess to his immediate advantage.
Equipped with iron-clad hands and limitless range, "Hapa" is at his best when he's mixing it up. So whether it's a flying knee, front kick, uppercut or spinning backfist, the Hawaiian stays busy.
Major Advantage: Browne
Now the owner of a three-fight first-round knockout streak, Browne must be respected as one of the hardest-hitting fighters in the world.
Not for nothing, but 12 of his 16-career victories have come by way of knockout or TKO. That's impressive considering the 31-year-old often finds himself opposite the best heavyweights around.
With that said, knocking out a seasoned veteran like Werdum isn't going to be a walk in the park. He's only been finished by strikes once in his career, and that came against former heavyweight kingpin Junior dos Santos.
However, while Browne might not match dos Santos' billing when it comes to overall power, his presence as a kickboxer and unorthodox marksman should allow him to create openings.
Werdum is no slouch in the clinch.
He's big and strong, knows how to utilize his knees and offsets any physical disadvantages he may have by tapping into his grappling skills.
But as efficient as the Brazilian might be in close quarters, Browne is a notch above him.
With one of the most devastating techniques to hit the division since Brock Lesnar's rabbit punches (just kidding), Browne has figured out a way to separate opponents from their senses by launching elbows to the temple while in the clinch.
It's a maneuver that many find unfair, but there's no reason to knock it when it works so well. Werdum better stay away from Browne's waistline.
Neither Werdum or Browne is a very good wrestler.
They're better suited at executing different modes of combat, which has served them well.
So, when the always important aspect of wrestling is called into question for a fight between a striker and a submission artist, it's difficult to find an answer.
But for this heavyweight collision, Werdum is the prime candidate to try and bring this fight to the mat. He might find it exhausting to defend Browne on his feet and would benefit from a chest-to-chest chess match.
However, Werdum may find it physically impossible to take down a towering dynamo who has never been dragged to the canvas in his UFC career.
Slight Advantage: Werdum (based on priority)
As favored as Browne is on the feet, Werdum possesses just as big of an advantage on the ground.
With countless submission victories under his belt, specifically finishes over Fedor Emelianenko and Antonio "Minotauro" Nogueira, the 36-year-old is as good as they come.
Now while Browne's physical stature may cause problems for the Brazilian in dragging the fight to his domain, it will also give Werdum a lot to hold onto if the action does hit the mat.
There's no secret that Werdum's key to success is swarming Browne with his world-class jiu-jitsu, so expect "Hapa" to do everything he can to stay away from his opponent's death grip.
Major Advantage: Werdum
Unmeasurable skills like heart, perseverance and determination are all intangibles, as well as experience.
For this bout between two of the best heavyweights in the sport, intangibles may make the difference, especially when you consider the odd-ball matchup between Werdum (a submission specialist) and Browne (a striker).
With that said, it would seem as if Browne possesses slightly more intangibles than Werdum. He's fresh off a first-round knockout of veteran Josh Barnett, knows how to stay patient and effective when in trouble and simply seems like the more dangerous fighter.
However, anything is possible, and we all know how unbeatable Werdum can be if he's able to grab a hold of a leg or an arm.
But based on sheer heart and the ability to pull off awe-inspiring performances, Browne gets the nod.
Slight Advantage: Browne
Momentum is a very dangerous animal.
It can make things happen when they seem utterly impossible. It creates the unexpected by extending ungodly streaks of excellence.
Fortunately for Browne, the momentum is on his side.
Now while Werdum poses a serious threat for any heavyweight, he's not going to be able to handle the tenacious striking and athleticism of "Hapa."
Things have gone Browne's way in the past and should continue to do so as he makes the leap from mid-tier challenger to No. 1 contender. Cain Velasquez better pay close attention come April.
Verdict: Browne via second-round TKO
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