Fabricio Werdum and Alistair Overeem know well that hate between opponents helps sell fights. However, if you’re hoping for drama as the No. 1 and No. 3 heavyweight contenders are going battle on at UFC 213 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas this Saturday, it would better to reconsider. Both fighters only want their skills to be the ones talking.
Werdum says of Overeem: “He’s smart and has a lot of experience. He is just waiting for you to do the wrong things and he’ll counter. He’s waiting a lot. He changes his base a lot. He has a lot of experience but I just want to beat him for sure.”
Overeem on Werdum: “For me there’s only admiration and respect. Fabricio Werdum makes me a better fighter. He’s an elite fighter. He’s 39 years old and still competing at the highest level, so he’s very dedicated. I think we share that in common.”
Once the Octagon cage doors are closed, those respectful feelings will be gone though. The fight is essentially a No. 1 contender bout where the winner will face next the current champion, Stipe Miocic, for the UFC heavyweight belt. Miocic already defeated both Overeem and Werdum in 2016.
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If that is not enough motivation, this is also the deciding fight in a three-bout rivalry which began in 2006, when a Pride FC matchup ended with Werdum submitting Overeem with a Kimura. The Dutch got his revenge five years later in Strikeforce, with a unanimous decision win.
“When you’re 1-1, of course there has to be a third fight,” Overeem states. “We’ve changed tremendously [since then]. He’s a far more complete fighter now than he was even a year ago. He’s constantly improving and that’s something that I respect a lot.” Werdum agrees with that sentiment, admitting that he was a limited fighter when they initially faced off in Pride.
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Overeem is an elite kickboxer with knockout power rarely seen in the UFC. A winner of five of his past six matchups, he has possibly MMA’s best knee strike when in the clinch. Werdum is a two-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion who holds black belts in jiu-jitsu, judo and Muay Thai. His skillful grappling ability has opponents typically shying away from taking the fight to the ground.
This clash of styles will be displayed the night of Saturday, July 8th. Both fighters are totally excited to prove once and for all who the better heavyweight is.
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