UFC heavyweight Fabricio Werdum (17-5) is currently the no. 1 title contender in the promotion’s heavyweight division, but unfortunately for him, champ Vain Velasquez (13-1) won’t be able to fight until well into next year due to a serious shoulder injury.
Werdum has said many times that he plans on waiting for the champ to recover so he can fight him for the UFC belt. But today at a UFC 168 presser, UFC President Dana White said they plan on setting him up against the winner of Travis Browne (15-1) vs. Josh Barnett (33-6).
“Yeah, that’s what we’re planning,” White confirmed after he was asked if Werdum would fight the winner of Browne vs. Barnett.
Werdum is currently riding an impressive three-fight winning streak against some tough opponents. After losing to Alistair Overeem (36-13) under the Strikeforce banner in 2011, Werdum has been on a tear in his second UFC stint.
First he defeated Roy Nelson (19-9) by a unanimous decision. Then he knocked out Mike Russow (15-3). And most recently, he submitted Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (34-8-1) in their long awaited rematch. The two fought seven years ago in the now defunct Pride Fighting Championships, and Nogueira bested Werdum via unanimous decision.
As for the matchup between Browne and Barnett, the gambling odds have recently been revealed to be in Barnett’s favor. But this is MMA. That means anything can happen. It’s unclear whether Werdum favors Barnett or Browne to emerge as the victor. A Werdum vs. Barnett matchup would be an interesting grappling match between a Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist and one of the best catch wrestlers in professional mixed martial arts. And a Werdum vs. Browne matchup would be a classic battle between striker vs. grappler.
Either way, it’s safe to say that Werdum will be watching the heavyweight matchup very closely tomorrow night.