Fabricio Werdum’s plans to return to title contention in 2018 were ruined by Alexander Volkov at UFC London this past weekend.
“Vai Cavalo” had a strong start against Volkov, easily dictating the pace and dominating the action on the ground in the opening rounds, but wasn’t able to use his stellar jiu-jitsu to get the finish. Werdum admits he was surprised with “how quickly I was able to take him down,” and thinks that not taking the time to adjust positions throughout the fight cost him the victory.
”Not taking anything away from Volkov, he fought and and defended well on the ground, but I think that patience was my worst enemy in this fight,” Werdum told MMA Fighting. “If I had more patience, I think the fight would have been different. I came back up trading punches with him right away, and I don’t think that was necessary. Breathe a little more. But that’s easy to say after the fight, but in there I’m the one that is feeling it.
”I imposed my rhythm for three rounds, and I think I won the first three rounds, but I needed to breathe more,” he continued. “Like when you’re playing on PlayStation and your energy goes down and then goes back up again. I got back up and my energy was too low to trade punches like that. Again, not taking anything away from Volkov.”
Not being so patient wasn’t the only factor that affected his performance, according to “Vai Cavalo.” The 40-year-old veteran said that an elbow that Volkov landed in the opening round affected him for the rest of the fight until he was knocked out in the fourth round.
”Another thing that disturbed me was my eye, he hit me with an elbow in the first round and that bothered me,” Werdum said. “In the third round, he hit me and opened a cut right below my eye, and I was going on autopilot. That blow affected my performance a lot, and that’s Volkov’s merit.”
Werdum’s single leg takedowns were very successful in the opening round. However, as the fight progressed, the Brazilian started to shoot for a single, but then pulled guard and tried to sweep Volkov. He was successful a few times, but ate a few punches in the process.
“That half-guard technique is something I do that surprises a lot of people because they are not used to that in MMA, and it’s natural for me,” Werdum said. “Every time I did that I was able to sweep him, and I even took his back.”
The jiu-jitsu wizard did take Volkov’s back, but once again lack of patience became his worst enemy.
”I went for the armbar, something I always do, but I watched the fight later and realized that my leg was not in the right place,” Werdum said. “I had taken a lot of punches and was bleeding a lot, so that didn’t help me. I thought I had both hooks in, but one of my legs was under his body, the hook wasn’t in, so I lost pressure on the armbar so that’s why he escaped so well.
”I didn’t realize during the fight that I didn’t have both hooks in. I took the risk and tried to submit him, I could have stayed a little longer there. Like I said, patience was my worst enemy in this fight.”
Fighting four times in eight months didn’t affect Werdum’s cardio at UFC London, he says. In fact, Werdum believes it only helped him, and he plans on staying active in 2018.
“I want to recover and get back in there as soon as possible,” Werdum said. “I have to talk to Rafael Cordeiro, with my team, with Ali (Abdelaziz), to decide when I’ll come back. I know that I’m one step away from the belt now, but I don’t lose hope. I have no doubts that I can become champion again one day. Of course that it will take two or three fights to get this chance now. I can’t talk about the belt now, I know I’m a few steps behind now.
”It will take some time, but I really believe I will fight for the belt. I believe I will fight for two or three years more. I never thought about retiring because of a loss like this. You have two options in a fight, you either win or lose, and this time I wasn’t able to win.”
Prior to UFC London, Werdum told MMA Fighting he was hoping to compete at UFC 226 and be a backup plan in case something happened with headliners Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier. A few steps back in the title picture, “Vai Cavalo” doesn’t rule out fighting in July, but won’t rush his return to the Octagon.
”Financially speaking, I could stop fighting today, but it’s not about money. I really enjoy fighting,” Werdum said. “I have two more fights in the UFC, but I plan on re-signing with the UFC to fight two or three years more. But we never know how long we’ll fight. I never had any severe injury or anything like that. I had some stitches in the face after this fight, but no fractures or anything like that.
”I won’t choose an opponent,” he continued. “Let’s see what happens, what the UFC decides. I was really happy with all the messages I got from fans. This time I was impressed that, despite the loss, I received many positive messages. It was cool being appreciated. I don’t think they appreciated me that much before, and I think that now they see the warrior that I am. That motivates me to continue fighting.”