Brazilian rivals Junior dos Santos and Fabricio Werdum trade verbal barbs ahead of their respective bouts at UFC 211.
A rematch between Junior dos Santos and Fabricio Werdum is a fight that fans have been clamoring to see since ‘Vai Cavalo’ captured the UFC heavyweight title in 2015.
Dos Santos, who held the heavyweight belt from 2011-2012, knocked out Werdum almost nine years ago at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois. The HW landscape has shifted since then, however, and Werdum, a former one-dimensional Brazilian Jiu Jitsu specialist, has evolved into one of the most well-rounded fighters on the roster. The 39-year-old lost the title to Stipe Miocic last year, however, and the UFC were looking to book a rematch against ‘Cigano’.
Dos Santos, though, claims Werdum turned down the fight on three separate occasions and doesn’t understand why he’s tried to call him out in the media.
“For the third time he said no. I cannot understand,” dos Santos told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour, per MMA Fighting’s Guilherme Cruz. “I cannot understand how he says so many bad things. The worst thing is, after all the crazy things, he comes and said he would come to my gym to beat me up. What? What is this guy saying? He just denied to make money fighting against me in a real fight, a professional fight, and now he wants to come here fight for free? What’s happening with this guy? I don’t understand anything. I think he’s confused, he’s completely lost on everything that he’s saying. But I think the right thing is happening right now.”
Instead, JDS will rematch Miocic in a championship headliner at UFC 211 (dos Santos beat Miocic via decision in a grueling five-round fight in 2014), where Werdum is also scheduled to take on the No. 5 ranked Ben Rothwell on the main card.
Dos Santos said Werdum once tried to make fun of him for fighting Rothwell, but the tables have turned.
“If you guys don’t know, there in Brazil, when I fought Ben Rothwell, he said ‘Junior doesn’t deserve to fight for the title because he beat Ben Rothwell. Who’s Ben Rothwell? That guy has no name, and that guy’s techniques are terrible.’ He said this in Brazil. Well, now he’s fighting Ben Rothwell, and if he wins he wants to fight for the title, so the rules are just for me, not for him.”
The 39-year-old Werdum responded in an interview with MMA Fighting, claiming that his ultimate goal is to reclaim the heavyweight belt, but admits that it would ‘taste better’ if he took it from dos Santos.
“My biggest goal is the belt, but I don’t know who will have it, Stipe Miocic or ‘Cigano,’” Werdum said. “I believe Stipe Miocic will win by decision. The last fight was close, ‘Cigano’ made the different in the last round, and it was tied going into that round. And I don’t think Stipe Miocic won that fight.
“The belt is my goal, and it would have a better taste if I took it away from ‘Cigano’. He talked a lot, talked a lot of crap these days before my fight with Cain Velasquez was booked. It was weird.”
Dos Santos, who is one of the most feared knockout artists in the division, said he has no interest to fight Werdum after UFC 211 because of his refusal to fight him in the past.
“Against Werdum? Why? Why am I going to fight this guy? He denied to fight me three times,” dos Santos said. “He was the No. 1 in the rankings, and I said this would be a good fight, a rematch. We can have a good fight here. He denied to fight three times with me, I don’t wanna fight him anymore. He’s not gonna add anything on my career. Maybe. Let’s see in the future.”
UFC 211, which features Miocic vs. dos Santos and Werdum vs. Rothwell as the main attractions, takes place May 13 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.