UFC 180 in Myrtle Beach
Bad news – Cain Velasquez (13-1) will no longer fight Fabricio Werdum (18-5-1) in defense of his UFC world heavyweight championship next month in Mexico City. Good news – We’re still getting an intriguing world title bout, albeit an interim one, in exchange.
Fabricio Werdum will take on Mark Hunt (10-8-1) for the newly created UFC heavyweight interim title Nov. 15 at UFC 180 in the main event of the promotion’s first ever show in Mexico. The fight will not only pit two of the division’s hottest contenders against one another, it’s also a match up that has so many x-factors that we’re racking our brains to pick a winner.
Few fighters in MMA can boast the kickboxing credentials that Mark Hunt has. And, absolutely no one has as many walk-off knockout wins as Hunt.
The New Zealander has dynamite in his fists and granite in his chin, both of which make give him an advantage in stand-up striking against most opponents. Werdum would appear to be no exception.
The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu submission expert should definitely look to get Hunt on his back, to have his best chance at winning on Nov. 15. However, when it comes to stand up striking, Werdum is greatly improved and a live dog.
In 2011, Werdum arguably out-struck K-1 Grand Prix champion Alistair Overeem before losing a razor-close, and admittedly mostly slow-paced decision. In his very next fight, Werdum lit up Roy Nelson with a Muay Thai clinic.
Is Werdum good enough to out-strike Hunt? Maybe not in terms of straight skill-set, but perhaps he’s got enough to give Hunt something to think of, wear him down a bit and take advantage of Hunt’s lack of preparation for this short-notice fight.
Still, Werdum would be wise to find a way to get Hunt on the ground and not play around on the feet, too long. On that note…
In switching opponents from Velasquez to Hunt, Werdum is also switching from someone who he had little hope of taking down, to a rival he likely has a wrestling advantage over. Werdum has to be careful, however, not to telegraph take down attempts, and instead remain gutsy and patient enough to stand and strike until he can time a smart and efficient take down attempt.
Hunt may not be an NCAA wrestling All-American, but he’s gotten much better at using his substantial size and good timing to avoid take down shots, and muscle out of clinch attempts. The biggest threat to Hunt getting taken down will likely be when he over commits to his power shots (like his left hook), and leaves himself off balance and completely open to shot attempts.
Werdum will have to be patient, stay safe on his feet, give Hunt something to think about with his own strikes and use timing to take Hunt down if the slugger over commits to one of those wide punches. Hunt may want to consider being very patient himself, and using mostly straight punches, to mitigate risk of getting taken down.
Hunt may not win the battle of who can stay tight and patient for the following reason, however…
Listen, despite his appearances, Hunt has proven that he can go five rounds, hard, before. Werdum has not.
Unfortunately for the K-1 champ, Hunt only has a couple weeks to get conditioned for his fight against Werdum – a pretty impossible task in any case. Add on to that the fact that Hunt is still likely worn out from his recent training camp, drastic weight cut and fight, and that Hunt has admitted to weighing over 300 pounds this week, and the smart money is on Hunt huffing and puffing a great deal if the fight reaches the later rounds.
Werdum faces a lot of unknowns in his new opponent, but we can be almost certain he’ll be the better conditioned athlete come fight night…unless he eats one too many Hunt bombs early on, that is.
Sure, Werdum is much better, here and we’ve already recommended he make sure to get Hunt to the mat. If he gets on top, it is bound to be a rough night for Hunt.
Unlike most other fighters, Werdum likely has the sharpness to pounce on a limb and take it home with him if Hunt muscles up in his typically sloppy manner. That is to say, if you’re a beast like Hunt and find yourself mounted, you can grab hold, bridge out, or turn and stand with your arms straight out, against most fighters without getting arm barred.
Against Werdum, that’s not a great idea. Even though Werdum has an amazing submission game, he would still be smart to look to solidify top position if he gets the take down, and use strikes to wear down and take out Hunt.
Most submissions are simply not high-percentage in a real fight – they are useful last resorts. Hunt has an amazing chin but he can’t last as long taking shots on the ground (with the mat there to bounce his dome around) as it can on the feet.
Even if Hunt ends up on top, on the ground, he’ll be in trouble. Heck, Werdum has shown himself dangerous off his back even after getting rocked and dropped (see his win over Fedor Emelianenko).
We don’t know who will win the main event at UFC 180 – that’s why they fight the fights. We do know that we sure are looking forward to it.
Either guy could win, and in shocking fashion. Who are you picking, and why?