MMAjunkie's 'Fight of the Month' for November: Who thrilled most in an event-heavy month?

With another action-packed month of MMA in the books, MMAjunkie looks at the best fights from November. Here are the five nominees, listed in chronological order, and winner of MMAjunkie’s “Fight of the Month” award for November.

At the bottom of the post, let us know if we got it right by voting on your choice.

* * * *

The Nominees

T.J. Dillashaw def. Cody Garbrandt at UFC 217

The bad blood between Cody Garbrandt (11-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) and T.J. Dillashaw (15-3 MMA, 11-3 UFC) finally got a chance to boil over, and an ex-champ got his title back in the grudge match with a former teammate.

Dillashaw stunned Garbrandt with a head kick, then moments later planted him again with a right hand before finishing him with a series of punches on the ground. The end came midway through the second round – and came after Dillashaw was saved by the bell in the first round when Garbrandt nearly had him finished.

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Georges St-Pierre def. Michael Bisping at UFC 217

Georges St-Pierre (26-2 MMA, 20-2 UFC) promised to make history against Michael Bisping (30-9 MMA, 20-9 UFC), and he delivered by becoming just the fourth fighter in UFC history to win belts in two weight classes when he claimed the middleweight belt.

Former longtime welterweight champ St-Pierre was successful in his return to the octagon after nearly four years when he defeated Bisping by third-round technical submission, tying the record for most wins in UF history.

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Dustin Poirier def. Anthony Pettis at UFC Fight Night 120

After faltering in his first UFC main event, Dustin Poirier (22-5 MMA, 14-4 UFC) thrived in his second when he defeated former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis (20-7 MMA, 7-6 UFC) in a thrilling bout.

Poirier’s solid run since returning to the 155-pound division in early 2015 continued with the victory over Pettis. It was a back-and-forth affair, and while the finish was anticlimactic due to an injury, “The Diamond” won a highlight entertaining bout.

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Frank Camacho def. Damien Brown at UFC Fight Night 121

In a no-brainer “Fight of the Night,” Frank Camacho (21-5 MMA, 1-1 UFC) and Damien Brown (17-11 MMA, 2-3 UFC) beat each other up for 15 minutes in a lightweight affair.

In the end, however, it was Camacho who got the most work done, and bloodied Brown up on his way to a split decision win. The judges rewarded his output with scores of 30-27 and 29-28; Brown got a dissenting 29-28 score.

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Fabricio Werdum def. Marcin Tybura at UFC Fight Night 121

Not many were expecting the heavyweight main event between Fabricio Werdum (23-7-1 MMA, 13-4 UFC) and Marcin Tybura (16-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) to go the distance. But that’s exactly what happened.

Werdum and Tybura went five rounds, combining for a single-fight heavyweight record 282 significant strikes landed. In the end it was Brazil’s Werdum, a former UFC heavyweight champion, who took the unanimous decision.

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* * * *

The winner: Dustin Poirier vs. Anthony Pettis

Poirier and Pettis delivered on the expectations, engaging in a wildly entertaining fight that saw “The Diamond” take home a third-round TKO in a blood-soaked affair.

Poirier took the center at the start, looking to press, but Pettis was there to open with a few powerful kicks to the legs and then up high. A Pettis flying knee just missed, and Poirier then changed levels and quickly drove the action to the floor. Poirier kept the legs wrapped as Pettis patiently worked to a sitting position and looked to crawl to his feet. Poirier stayed heavy on top, and Pettis turned to a kimura, but Poirier reacted well and was able to pull free and move to his opponent’s guard. A slick Pettis sweep created a scramble, and the two moved back to the feet, where both men landed crisp right hands.

Poirier came up short on another takedown, but a nice right hand followed and briefly stumbled Pettis. Poirier turned up the head, and combinations rocked his opponent. Pettis answered with a spinning backfist that stunned his opponent, but Poirier and continued with the assault until the bell.

Pettis seemed fully recovered to start the second, coming out aggressive and looking to strike. Poirier again turned to the takedown, getting the fight to the floor and battling through a triangle attempt from his opponent. Poirier scored with a few big elbows from the top, slicing open Pettis, who was forced to roll and expose his back. With blood streaming down his face and impacting his vision, Pettis was able to spin inside and take top position, scoring a few big punches and elbows of his own. Wild scrambles followed, with both men covered in blood and battling for position. Eventually, they returned to the feet, where Pettis scored a takedown but was unable to control Poirier, who slipped out the back door and took top position. With blood pooling on the face of Pettis, referee Keith Peterson called time and brought the doctor in to take a look.

Despite a few nasty cuts in dangerous spots, the fight was allowed to continue, and Pettis locked in a dangerous triangle choke in the final seconds. Poirier survived the hold and wound up on top, striking until the bell.

Both men looked battered to start the third, and after a few back-and-forth strikes, Poirier again pushed inside for a takedown. Pettis looked to scramble free, but Poirier was able to slip around to the back and lock in a body triangle. Pettis did well to battle the hands, but as he again tried to spin inside the hold, Poirier transitioned over to mount. The torque was too much for Pettis, and he verbally submitted due to an apparent injury, resulting in a TKO finish.

“It was weird,” Poirier said of the finish. “I thought I was going to get the head-and-arm or rear-naked choke. He was hurt, and I felt the power leave him. You know the point in a fight when a guy gets broken. I do that to a lot of these guys.

“I’m a nasty dude. I love this. This is what I live for. The talking, calling people out and acting crazy? That’s not what I do. I fight.”

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Filed under: Bellator, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Twitter Mailbag: Where does Michael Bisping go from here, and does Colby Covington have a point?

Where’s the Bisping Show headed after Shanghai? Does running your mouth really warrant a boomerang to the neck? And is Bellator suddenly more fun than the UFC, or is it only in isolated moments?

All that and more in this week’s Twitter Mailbag. To ask a question of your own, tweet to @BenFowlkesMMA.

* * * *

How about someone around his age? And yes, I know Yoel Romero is around his age, but no, not him. It’d be a little too depressing to see Michael Bisping catch a jumping knee knockout in front of the U.K. crowd for his final fight. Plus, if he takes a bad loss, he might be motivated to continue in the hopes of writing a better ending for himself, and nobody wants that.

But it does matter if he wins or loses against Kelvin Gastelum, because it will change what it means to fight and potentially beat Bisping. Right now? It really means something. He just lost his title, sure, but he lost it to an all-time great. Beating him now still makes you a contender, so the fight would still make sense for just about anybody in the top half of the division.

If Bisping loses to Gastelum, however? Then he’s got two straight losses to two former welterweights, and his last fight is just a feel-good formality. That has to affect the UFC’s matchmaking calculation. You don’t want to give him a contender, because what if he wins? All you’ve done is knock off a potential title challenger with a glorified retirement party.

What you want for Bisping is another Bisping. You want someone old enough that it won’t feel like feeding time in the wolf pen, but also someone with a name. You want someone who’s nowhere close to a title, but still feels like a somebody.

Man, it’s times like these you wish Vitor Belfort wasn’t already booked.

What Colby Covington said on “The MMA Hour” this week was that Fabricio Werdum attacked him for exercising his right to free speech. He also compared Werdum to Adolf Hitler, just so he could be sure to hit all the notes of a terrible Twitter troll. But does he have a point?

Yes and no. We can’t go around hitting each other, either with fists or boomerangs, just because we don’t like the words coming out of one another’s mouths. If anything, this should be more of an imperative for pro fighters. Not only are they likely to be treated more harshly by the legal system if they use their skills on civilians (shoutout to Volkan Oezdemir), they’re also giving away the goods for free.

You don’t get paid to fight in the streets, and getting paid is what makes you a professional rather than a criminal.

But we should be careful giving Covington too much leeway under the guise of a gimmick. Pro wrestlers can say anything they want and then leave it behind once they set foot outside the arena, but that’s because we recognize them as a species of actor. Covington is representing himself when he’s on TV maligning an entire nation, so maybe he shouldn’t be too surprised when he’s held accountable for it.

After all, this was the goal, right? He wanted to make people mad, if only as a means of making them care. Well, mission accomplished. Now please accept this boomerang as a reward. As for Werdum, who apparently wants to be some kind of street enforcer of good manners, he can deal with the Sydney police. Somehow I’m confident that both men will manage to learn nothing useful from the experience.

First we’re going to have to trick Quinton Jackson into thinking that he’s been invited to participate in a video-game tournament with a large cash prize and free candy bars, and it just happens to be on the same night as his opening-round bout.

Then we have Shane Carwin hang around the Bellator offices, asking everyone about their weekend plans and barely pausing to let them answer before he informs them that he’s got nothing on the calendar himself. Nope, just totally free for the next several months. No plans at all.

After that, all we have to do is sit back and let nature take its course.

Why strip him when you can create an interim title, which the UFC has already done, and have it hold just as much legitimacy as the real thing would if you took it off Conor McGregor now?

Whether he has a belt around his waist or not is pretty immaterial at this point. McGregor is the biggest star in the sport, and the UFC has no leverage over him whatsoever. Good luck getting him to do anything he doesn’t want to do.

You’re not tripping, but you may be dreaming. All the new deal proves is that the UFC wants to keep Cris Cyborg around, and why not? As difficult as she can be, fans still want to see her. What’s yet to be determined is whether they really care if there’s a whole division around her, or if they’ll be content seeing a series of one-off women’s featherweight title fights.

Ask yourself this: If Cyborg retired tomorrow, would this still be a division that’s worth the trouble for the UFC? If the answer is no (and I suspect it is), the current strategy starts to make lot of sense.

Look, for all the criticism you can heap on Werdum for his behavior and for the company he keeps, you can’t say he’s ducking real competition. He was slated to fight Derrick Lewis before Lewis pulled out hurt at the last minute and left him with Walt Harris. Then he said yes to a short-notice fight against an unheralded but still deceptively dangerous opponent in Marcin Tybura a month later. Clearly, the guy wants to fight.

Does that mean he deserves another crack at the title? Not yet. If I’m the UFC, there’s no way I’m giving that shot to Werdum right now, and his lack of recent wins over top contenders is only a part of the reason why. Hitting a fellow fighter with a boomerang a few days before an event may not get you pulled from the main event, but it shouldn’t get you an immediate title shot either.

Quick, who’s the Bellator middleweight champion? How about featherweight? Or bantamweight? If you didn’t have to look up the answer to at least one of those, congratulations, you are the hardest core of all the hardcore MMA fans.

I agree that stuff like the Bellator heavyweight grand prix has a way of instantly grabbing our attention, which is nice. Bellator’s total willingness to get weird and flaunt it right in our faces (as opposed to the UFC strategy of chasing the quick buck but pretending it’s all legit) feels like a fun use of its role as MMA’s no. 2 promotion.

But outside of the wild and crazy stuff, that’s where Bellator struggles. It can go through weeks worth of events without offering anything that feels like truly must-see material. It does plenty with what it has, but it simply doesn’t have enough. Not yet, anyway.

Ben Fowlkes is MMAjunkie and USA TODAY’s MMA columnist. Follow him on Twitter at @BenFowlkesMMA. Twitter Mailbag appears every Thursday on MMAjunkie.

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Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Trading Shots: What should the UFC do about an uptick in fighters behaving badly?

From shoving referees to flinging boomerangs and homophobic epithets, UFC fighters haven’t exactly been on their best behavior lately. But when consequences are slow to appear, at what point do we need to examine the UFC’s approach to crime and punishment? MMAjunkie columnist Ben Fowlkes and retired UFC and WEC fighter Danny Downes discuss.

* * * *

Fowlkes: It was an eventful week outside the cage, Danny.

Down in Sydney, Australia, Fabricio Werdum hit Colby Covington in the neck with a boomerang that was, somewhat hilariously, still in a plastic bag.

Covington responded with a Facebook video of himself using the English version of the same gay slur that got Werdum in trouble a couple months ago, and that’s in addition to his ongoing verbal attacks on Brazilians, which is what started this mess.

Then on Sunday morning I wake up to news that Volkan Oezdemir has been arrested for battery shortly after being pegged as the next UFC light heavyweight title challenger.

All this comes, of course, in the shadow of Conor McGregor’s latest transgression, which involved leaping into the Bellator cage, shoving a ref, and then issuing an “apology” that mostly blamed that ref.

You know what all these incidents have in common, Danny? The UFC doesn’t seem to know what to do about any of them, at least not yet.

Consequences and repercussions are proving to be a tricky business for the MMA leader, and you can kind of see why. On one hand, rivalries and trash-talk and angry people paid to hurt each other are good business. But is there a connection between the UFC’s reluctance to punish anybody and what feels like an uptick in bad behavior from fighters gone wild?

Downes: I don’t know if I’d make that connection. True, the UFC hasn’t punished any of the fighters you mentioned (unless you include McGregor getting pulled from a fight card that we never heard he’d been booked on), but I think you’re attributing a larger problem to a few specific fighters.

Let’s look at some of the people in question. Werdum hasn’t received any discipline for his transgressions yet, so of course he’ll think it’s alright to throw a boomerang at somebody else.

I agree that there’s a chance that if he had received some type of fine/suspension in the past, he would be more wary of getting into confrontations, but that’s not a guarantee. If you’ll unapologetically support a Chechen dictator accused of multiple human rights abuses, I doubt your affinity for a change of heart.

Then we have Covington. He’s out there trolling anyone and everything. Either he’s willfully ignorant of his racist pronouncements, or he’s purposefully using them in his gimmick. Either way, I don’t feel like giving him any more attention.

Last but not least we have McGregor. We discussed this a little last week, but McGregor knows he has the leverage. Despite the UFC having its “best year ever,” it can’t afford to keep McGregor on the sideline. You think the UFC wants to teach him a lesson in humility if it means passing up on all that sweet McGregor money?

I know you’d like to see the UFC do something to enforce the supposed code of conduct, but I for one do not want to endorse a more heavy-handed disciplinary process. From Nate Diaz to Jason High and many other fighters in between, we’ve seen UFC discipline used to send a message against fighters that don’t tow the company line or have upset the brass.

If we give the UFC more discretion to punish athletes, won’t it lead to even more disparity in how the rules are enforced? You think the Endeavor era is beyond petty grievances?

Fowlkes: Seems to me that what you’re complaining about there is the uneven application of punishments, not the mere existence of them. And that’s a valid complaint. All are not equal in the UFC’s internal justice system, and they never have been.

Then there’s the issue of what the UFC deems worthy of punishment. Remember when Donald Cerrone made an unapproved addition to his Reebok fight kit? The UFC didn’t hesitate to hit him with what he described as a pretty serious fine. And even McGregor wasn’t immune from the penalty for blowing off pre-fight media obligations, as we saw when he got yanked from UFC 200.

You mess with the UFC’s money, there will be consequences. But what if you’re just out there acting like a jerk? What if that jerkish behavior veers into criminal territory?

That’s what surprised me about the UFC’s response to the Werdum boomerang incident (hereafter known as “Werdumerang”). The initial statement said that the UFC would be investigating whether or not it violated the “Athlete Conduct Policy.” Now, I don’t know if there’s a specific clause in there about hitting other fighters in the neck with a damn boomerang, but it’s hard for me to imagine how you could even have a code of conduct that something like that wouldn’t violate.

Seriously, we all saw the video. Werdum was standing there arguing with Covington and then decided to hit him in the neck with an aerodynamic stick. I don’t know how many brilliant detectives we really need in order to crack this case.

Let me ask you this: When you heard about this incident, did you entertain the thought, even for a second, that the UFC might pull Werdum out of his fight as punishment? Probably not. That’d be crazy, right? Just because a guy gets charged with assault outside the host hotel two days before the event, that’s no reason to scratch him from the headlining spot. Why, that’d be bad for business. Better to take your time with the investigation until after the show’s over and the money’s all been counted.

Why is it so hard to believe that, in the instant before he turned his souvenir into a weapon, Werdum ran through the same calculation in his head? And if he knew there was no way he’d lose his chance to fight and get paid, hell, why not find out if a boomerang can still fly inside a plastic bag?

Downes: You do realize you’re attributing a cold, calculated process of judgement to a man who threw a boomerang at another person, right?

You’re correct that many fighters (at least the high-profile ones) know they can get away with a certain level of misbehavior, but all the discipline in the world isn’t going to prevent impulsive people from doing impulsive things. What are the odds on Werdum picking on a bantamweight the next time he makes a public appearance? Obviously he has a hard time walking away from confrontations, and he’s not the only MMA fighter who would fall into that category.

You’ve complained about the arbitrary nature of the Nevada State Athletic Commission on multiple occasions. I fail to see how the UFC would avoid the same mistakes. That doesn’t mean that nothing should be done, but the current UFC structure is not equipped to handle these matters. If the company executives tried to take a tougher stance on conduct issues, they would bumble through it and open themselves up to lawsuits just like the NFL.

You think they’re going to risk the leverage they have in labor relations to teach Werdum that he should use his words (at least his non-homophobic ones) instead of his boomerangs? Not likely.

Perhaps all these disciplinary issues will hurt the bottom line and spurn some action. News stories about your athletes throwing boomerangs or using bigoted language are not good for the “brand.” You said that if you mess with the UFC’s money, there will be consequences. But none of the altercations we’ve discussed have done that so far.

Maybe the UFC needs to hire Matt Hughes back to get his crack team of policy strategists back together. More likely, though, what it needs is a panel to hear appeals and mete out punishments like other sports leagues. This can’t be some reactionary, spur-of-the-moment answer. It may seem more fulfilling to have someone unilaterally deal out discipline, but that doesn’t solve any longterm issues.

I do wonder, though, what type of discipline would satisfy us. MMA, by its nature, does not lend itself to effective judgments. You can’t suspend fighters for a few games (they only fight a couple times a year) and most of them don’t make enough money to make fines a fair method. Punishment and justice are two totally different things. We may desire the former, but we should aim for the latter.

Ben Fowlkes is MMAjunkie and USA TODAY’s MMA columnist. Danny Downes, a retired UFC and WEC fighter, is an MMAjunkie contributor who has also written for UFC.com and UFC 360. Follow them on twitter at @benfowlkesMMA and @dannyboydownes.

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Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Sean Shelby's Shoes: What's next for Fabricio Werdum and UFC Fight Night 121's other winning fighters?

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

The octagon doesn’t touch down in Sydney very often, but UFC Fight Night 121 provided plenty of cage time for the Australian fans. All six main-card bouts went to a decision on Saturday’s FS1-televised lineup at Qudos Bank Arena.

Former UFC heavyweight champ Fabricio Werdum (23-7-1 MMA, 11-4 UFC) even went all five rounds in the main event, dominating Marcin Tybura (16-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) to a unanimous decision to strengthen his argument for another shot at the title he lost in May 2016.

Prior to the headliner, Jessica-Rose Clark (8-4 MMA, 1-0 UFC), Belal Muhammad (13-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC) and Jake Matthews (11-3 MMA, 5-3 UFC) edged their respective opponents by split decision, while Elias Theodorou (14-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) and Alex Volkanovski (16-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) earned unanimous nods on the scorecards.

After every event, fans wonder whom the winners will be matched up with next. And with another night of UFC action in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look forward, put on a pair of Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard’s shoes, and play UFC matchmaker for UFC Fight Night 121’s winning fighters.

* * * *

Alex Volkanovski

Jeremy Kennedy

Should fight: Jeremy Kennedy
Why they should fight: Volkanovski continued to thrive since joining the UFC roster when he improved to 3-0 under inside the octagon with an utterly dominant performance against short-notice promotional newcomer Shane Young.

Volkanovski had his way with Young en route to a unanimous decision victory and now has won 16 of his 17 career fights. The Australian could be major problem in the featherweight division, but he needs tougher opponents in order to prove exactly where he stands among the best.

Once upon a time, before multiple injury changes, Volkanovski was scheduled to fight Kennedy (11-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) at the event. The Canadian was forced to withdraw due to a back injury, but if his recovery is on track for a return early next year, it would be interesting to see how the unbeaten fighter approached Volkanovski, who has been a tough riddle to solve.

Elias Theodorou

Anthony Smith

Should fight: Anthony Smith
Why they should fight: “Ultimate Fighter: Nations” winner Theodorou picked up a unanimous decision win over fellow cast member Dan Kelly, much to the dismay of the Australian crowd.

Every time Theodorou has experienced a setback he’s rebounded with a win, and following a defeat to Brad Tavares in July, he did that again by outpointing Kelly over the course of three rounds of middleweight action.

There’s definitely something to be desired with Theodorou’s style visually, but on paper it’s proven effective. He’s won six of eight UFC fights so far and has some notable wins to his credit within that record. The Canadian will surely want to keep the balling rolling, and there’s no shortage of tough competition at 185 pounds.

Theodorou’s faults have come against opponents capable of out-striking him. There’s no guarantee Smith (27-13 MMA, 4-2 UFC) would be able to do that, but “Lionheart’s” height, size and strength has the potential to give Theodorou all sorts of problems.

Jake Matthews

Shinsho Anzai

Should fight: Shinsho Anzai
Why they should fight: It was a bumpy return back to the UFC welterweight division, but ultimately Matthews managed to get his hands raised with a split-decision victory over a gritty Bojan Velickovic.

After a hot start to his UFC career, Matthews has had some struggles of late. He hoped a change in weight class would bring out his best, but he just scratched by against Velickovic in a rather unimpressive manner. The upside for the Aussie, though, is the fact he’s still young at just 23.

Matthews has been given few easy fights to this point, and that’s unlikely to change going forward. Anzai (10-2 MMA, 2-1 UFC) is a tough and durable opponent who has back-to-back wins on his UFC record. The Japanese fighter is on approximately the same level of Matthews in the division, so there’s no reason not to pit them against each other.

Belal Muhammad

Warlley Alves

Should fight: Warlley Alves
Why they should fight: Muhammad picked up the biggest victory of her career when he outworked and edged UFC veteran Tim Means by split decision in the card’s featured bout.

Muhammad has shown some solid skills each time he’s stepped in the octagon. He dropped two of his first three fights with the promotion, but since has reeled off three-straight, with the win over Means being the most meaningful yet.

The only thing holding Muhammad back at this point is his low rate of stoppage victories. He need a big finish to take things to the next level, and a fight with an ulna-aggressive, powerful foe like Alves (11-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) would give him every opportunity to make that happen.

Jessica-Rose Clark

Joanne Calderwood

Should fight: Joanne Calderwood
Why they should fight: After making her UFC debut on just 11 days’ notice against a veteran of the octagon, Clark now finds herself with a winning record inside the octagon and high aspirations for the future in the women’s flyweight division.

Clark may have missed weight, but still picked up a split-decision win over Bec Rawlings to announce her arrival in the UFC. The circumstances were far from ideal, but Clark made the most of them and already has big aspirations for her future, such as fighting for the title.

The women’s 125-pound division is still in its infancy in the UFC. Clark has intentions of being a significant part of the weight class, but will have to see how “The Ultimate Fighter 26” tournament, which will crown the inaugural champion, shakes out.

In the meantime, Clark should look to fight an opponent who is not part of “TUF 26.” Calderwood (11-3 MMA, 3-3 UFC) was originally supposed to face Rawlings at the event but was forced to withdraw on short notice. Clark filled in for her, now she should fight against her.

Fabricio Werdum

Should fight: Alexander Volkov
Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Werdum should fight Volkov (29-6 MMA, 3-0 UFC) next.

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

Why does Fabricio Werdum have to make it so hard to root for him?

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

What a week for Fabricio Werdum. What a couple months, actually. A recap, for those joining this career already in progress:

• In September, during a media appearance to promote UFC 216, the former UFC heavyweight champ got into it with current UFC lightweight champ Tony Ferguson, repeatedly using a gay slur before things nearly got physical between two men separated by about half a foot and 50 pounds or so.

• In October, he lost his original UFC 216 opponent, Derrick Lewis, due to a last-minute injury withdrawal. That left him in a fight with replacement opponent Walt Harris, whom he armbarred with a quickness, thereby reminding us that when a heavyweight is unranked, there’s usually a reason.

• After that, he accepted an offer to fill in for Mark Hunt in a fight against Marcin Tybura at UFC Fight Night 121 in Sydney. But when he got to the “Land Down Under,” he made news by beefing with UFC welterweight Colby Covington, whom Werdum hit with a boomerang on the sidewalk outside the host hotel. This was caught on camera and turned into an unintentionally hilarious local news story. Then he was charged with simple assault two days before his main event bout.

• But the bout went on, of course, giving Werdum a chance to go five rounds with Tybura at the longest UFC event in company history. He won a unanimous decision victory, then made his case for a title shot based more on his cumulative accomplishments than his recent ones. Did he not realize or just not care that his request comes at a time when he’s been in the news more for his misbehavior than his fighting? Unclear. “Vai Cavalho” just wants his title shot. What? Why’s everybody looking at him like that?

It’s a strange time for the 40-year-old Werdum. He’s got to be at least within sight of retirement, and clearly he wants another title for his trophy case before he hangs up the gloves. His last two wins came against unheralded opponents, but you can hardly blame him for that, since all he’s doing is showing up and fighting who’s there.

Then again, when you can’t bring him to lunch or to Australia without him making all the wrong kind of headlines, how eager can you be to give him another chance at calling himself your UFC heavyweight champion?

Even when he’s not actively doing wrong, he’s still the most famous fighter to keep stubbornly aligning himself with Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov, who recently threatened nuclear war while also voicing his support for the murder of gay people. Werdum is all too happy to keep taking his money in exchange for lending his own name to the virulently anti-gay dictator’s cause, and he seems baffled whenever anyone suggests that it might be a problem.

But if we’re wondering why Werdum can’t seem to get out of his own way, maybe we should look at the lessons he’s no doubt learned from all his recent experiences.

For instance, when he got all slur-happy with Ferguson? According to the UFC, his penance was “outreach” in the Las Vegas LGBTQ community, but there’s no indication he’s actually done it, and in fact he reportedly told a Brazilian media outlet that he hadn’t been punished at all.

He’s unlikely to get off so easy for his boomerang attack, if only because a) it was caught on camera, and b) the local police already are involved. Even so, the initial response from the UFC has been non-committal. It’s still investigating, said Dave Shaw, the promotion’s vice president of international content. It’s going to try to determine whether either Werdum or Covington violated the “Athlete Conduct Policy.”

If hitting someone in the neck with a boomerang somehow didn’t violate that policy, that in itself would be pretty newsworthy.

Then there’s the whole buddying up with a violent dictator and accused war criminal thing, which doesn’t seem to bother the UFC in the least. These independent contractors are apparently free to pick up any sponsors they want outside the cage, even if it means shouting out a warlord’s MMA team on a UFC broadcast, as Werdum did in Sydney.

Even if there aren’t going to be any significant consequences from his employer, now might be a good time for Werdum to think about what kind of fighter he wants to be known as.

He’s got to be nearing the end of his run in MMA. There was a time when he was the guy who beat the great Fedor Emelianenko. Then he was the guy who beat high-elevation Cain Velasquez for the UFC title.

But now? Seems more and more like he’s the guy who gets harder to root for the more you know about him. And while that might not have been his first impression in this sport, it could end up being his lasting one if he isn’t careful.

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Not to toot his own horn, but Fabricio Werdum knows his UFC title-shot credentials are best

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SYDNEY – Former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum wants a title shot after picking up his second victory in a 42-day stretch. His argument? No one in the weight class is more deserving.

“I feel for sure I deserve it,” Werdum told MMAjunkie following his unanimous decision win over Marcin Tybura in Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 121 headliner. “It’s not just now for this fight and my last fight. I’ve beat a lot of guys – Fedor Emelianenko, Cain Velasquez, Minotauro (Nogueira). I have a history. For 20 years I’ve been fighting. Not just now. I have two belts in my home. Only one fighter in the world is a jiu-jitsu champion, a submission champion and a UFC champion. It’s me.

“I don’t like when I say that, but I know this is true for sure. Given the opportunity I just want to show again. One more belt on my wall at home, I will stop after that. No, no, I’m joking.”

Werdum (23-7-1 MMA, 11-4 UFC) beat Marcin Tybura (16-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) in lopsided fashion in the UFC Fight Night 121 main event, which took place at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney and aired on FS1. “Vai Cavalo” stepped into the fight as a short-notice replacement after beating Walt Harris by 65-second submission at UFC 216 in October, and he managed to put on another strong performance.

As a former titleholder with wins over a bevy of competition, Werdum believes he should be next to challenge current heavyweight king Stipe Miocic (17-2 MMA, 11-2 UFC). The Brazilian lost the title to Miocic by first-round knockout at UFC 198 in May 2016 and has been working toward a rematch ever since.

Currently, the winner of next month’s UFC 218 co-headliner between Alistair Overeem (43-15 MMA, 8-4 UFC) and Francis Ngannou (10-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) figures to fight for the belt. Despite the fact he suffered a majority-decision loss to Overeem at UFC 213 in July, Werdum believes his overall resume is stronger than anyone. He’s willing to continue to fight to prove it and hopes the UFC keeps him active.

“I want to fight more,” Werdum said. “Long time ago I’ve been waiting one year for a fight. Why am I waiting like six months, seven months? I want to fight more. I want to fight maybe five times a year. This fight (Alistair) Overeem vs. Francis (Ngannou), I don’t think Francis deserves it yet because he just started (MMA) now. Overeem has a big history, too, but I think I deserve the title shot. I just want the opportunity.”

One person Werdum said he wouldn’t fight next is Derrick Lewis (18-5 MMA, 9-3 UFC), who he was scheduled to fight at UFC 216 before “The Black Beast” withdrew on fight day due to injury. Werdum said he doesn’t want to try running that fight back but also wouldn’t name any potential next opponents outside the champion.

After a quick turnaround and high-paced fight with Tybura over five rounds, Werdum said he looks forward to a brief rest, and praised his UFC Fight Night 121 opponent for the challenging scrap.

“I’m very tired, because it’s five rounds, five minutes,” Werdum said. “Tybura is a very tough fighter. I know this before. He’s a very young guy. He deserves it. I used my experience there. Everybody saw that. I tried to finish the fight a lot of times. He had good defense.”

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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UFC exec: Conclusions on alleged Fabricio Werdum assault of Colby Covington premature

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SYDNEY – The UFC is taking its time in determining what happened during the altercation between Fabricio Werdum and Colby Covington.

Werdum, 40, was charged this past week with common assault for allegedly throwing and hitting Covington, 29, with a boomerang outside the Hilton Sydney, which served as the host hotel for UFC Fight Night 121.

The UFC’s initial response in a statement was that it would investigate to determine if either fighter broke Athlete Conduct Policy regulations. According to vice president of international content Dave Shaw, that investigation is ongoing.

“From a company standpoint, we’re still collecting as much information as we can,” Shaw said in a press conference at Qudos Bank Arena following UFC Fight Night 121. “We’ve spoken to Werdum and his team. We spoke to Covington. We spoke to the hotel security. We spoke to police.

“So we are not at a point to make any conclusions yet. It’s just too early. There’s still a process that we need to go through. And, listen, at this point, it’s in the hands of the New South Wales Police. I think Werdum is going to have some conversations in the next few weeks at least with them.”

The encounter between Werdum and Covington took place Wednesday (Thursday locally), and parts of it were captured in two videos.

Werdum told MMAjunkie the incident started in the hotel lobby, where he crossed paths with Covington, who called him a “Brazilian animal.” During a live-stream, Covington claimed Werdum punched him, which Werdum denied. Werdum did not make mention of the alleged assault with the boomerang, which was filmed separately and posted to Facebook.

Covington ended his live stream with racist remarks, calling the people of Brazil “filthy animals.”

“F*ck Brazil. F*ck Fabricio Werdum. Little b*tch ass,” Covington says. “F*ck Brazil. A bunch of filthy animals. And they wonder why they get talked to like that. Because they’re a bunch of animals.”

Werdum, who was victorious in Saturday’s FS1-televised main event against Marcin Tybura, is expected to appear in court on Dec. 13.

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Twitter reacts to Fabricio Werdum's dominant win over Marcin Tybura at UFC Fight Night 121

Former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum continued to roll on Saturday when he picked up his second victory in a 42-day span, beating Marcin Tybura in the UFC Fight Night 121 main event.

Werdum (23-7-1 MMA, 11-4 UFC) turned in a dominant unanimous-decision win over Tybura (16-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) in the FS1-televised headliner at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney, improving his chances at possibly regaining the gold.

Check below for the top Twitter reactions to Werdum’s victory over Tybura at UFC Fight Night 121.

* * * *

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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UFC Fight Night 121 results: Fabricio Werdum outlasts Marcin Tybura for 25-minute decision

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Not many were expecting Saturday’s heavyweight main event to go the distance. But that’s just what it did.

Fabricio Werdum (23-7-1 MMA, 13-4 UFC) and Marcin Tybura (16-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) went five rounds, and it was Brazil’s Werdum, a former UFC heavyweight champion, who took the unanimous decision with a pair of 50-45s and a 49-46 from the judges.

Werdum-Tybura wrapped up a 13-fight card that proved to be the longest 13-fight event in UFC history when it comes to total fight time – which surpassed three hours.

The heavyweight bout was the main event of today’s UFC Fight Night 121 event at at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. It aired on FS1 following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

Werdum went to the center, then countered a leg kick from Tybura with one of his own. A minute in, Werdum pushed Tybura back with punches, then reset in the middle. Werdum stayed patient, and just past two minutes into the round landed some Thai knees and punches. Tybura kicked up the middle, then glanced a left hand off Werdum’s chin. With 90 seconds left, Werdum landed a combination and had Tybura backing up. Werdum easily got inside and tied Tybura up on the fence. With 20 seconds left, Werdum got a takedown – but Tybura reversed it before the round was over.

Werdum and Tybura worked kicks early in the second. A minute in, Werdum nearly landed a jumping knee. The pace wasn’t too heavy, and nearly midway through, Tybura landed a solid head kick. But just past the two-minute mark, Werdum chased Tybura down. With 25 seconds left, Werdum started to have some success with punches and kicks, but Tybura lived to see the third.

Tybura had a head kick partially blocked in the third, then landed a short uppercut when Werdum landed a knee. A jumping knee from Werdum was just off the mark three minutes in. Werdum missed a spinning back fist with 80 seconds left, but came formward with knees and punches to the body. With a minute left in the round, Werdum landed knees against a near frozen Tybura, but Tybura survived the brief attack.

Werdum kept outworking Tybura in the fourth. At the midway point, he finally landed a takedown and started smashing elbows down. Werdum worked around to side control and went after an armbar. But Tybura scrambled out and ate a knee for his troubles. Werdum had a guillotine choke late in teh round, but it was too late. Werdum may have held the choke too long past the buzzer – angering Tybura and ihs cornermen.

In the fifth, Tybura rocked Werdum in the first minute, but Werdum worked through it. A head kick came 90 seconds in, and again Werdum walked past it. With a minute left, Werdum tried to bring some pressure, but he couldn’t find the finish.

Werdum won for the second straight time and third time in three fights since losing the heavyweight title in May 2016. Tybura hada three-fight winning streak snapped.

Up-to-the-minute UFC Fight Night 121 results include:

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

(MMAjunkie’s John Morgan contributed to this report on site in Sydney.)

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Source: MMA Junkie

Who ya got?! Fighters weigh in on Fabricio Werdum vs. Marcin Tybura at UFC-Sydney

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SYDNEY – A former champion continues his quest to get back to heavyweight title contention in the UFC Fight Night 121 main event.

Ex-champ Fabricio Werdum (22-7-1 MMA, 10-4 UFC) meets Marcin Tybura (16-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) in the headliner of UFC Fight Night 121, which takes place Sunday (but airs live on Saturday in North America due to the time difference) at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. It airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Werdum is No. 3 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA heavyweight rankings. Tybura is an honorable mention. Werdum is more than a 3-1 favorite in the fight.

But who are some of their fellow UFC-Sydney fighters picking in the main event? Check out the video above to get their picks.

For more on UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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