Fabricio Werdum was on an impressive two-fight winning streak when he met a then-unknown Junior dos Santos at UFC 90 in 2008. Heading into the fight, it must have been difficult for Werdum to imagine that he'd be sent packing from the UFC after fighting the hungry young Brazilian.
A well-placed and well-timed uppercut separated Werdum from consciousness as well as from his UFC contract, sending him off to clean up in the Strikeforce heavyweight division. An unfortunate set of circumstances for most, but something that Werdum recently told MMAJunkie undeniably changed his career for the better.
One has to be very careful. People who aren't that famous but have a long win streak, those are the ones you have to watch out for. It already happened to me in the UFC when I fought against Junior Dos Santos. He was fairly unknown at that time. He surprised me.
I didn't underestimate him, but we met in a time in my career when I wasn't very focused. I wasn't doing the right things. I didn't watch a single fight tape. I had no access to tapes. I wasn't as professional as I am today. Around this time, I was somewhat lost in life. But at the same time, that's on me only. 'Cigano' did his job as he was supposed to. So, if I wasn't training, if I wasn't focused, that's on me. That failure was mine, completely mine. I didn't watch his fights. I knew he could box but I didn't know how good he was. That's what happens. I learned a lot from that fight.
I am even thankful in a way because if not for Junior, I would not have exited the UFC, and I would have never had the best fight of my life, which was against Fedor Emelianenko. Had I beat Junior, I would have extended my UFC contract, and I would have never fought Fedor. This was all supposed to happen. In my mind I think God decided, 'Werdum, you must lose this fight to learn a lesson. You're doing wrong.' I am confident I learned a lot from this loss, and as the world goes around, I am sure we'll meet again soon.
So, heading into his fight this Saturday against the not-so-highly regarded Mike Russow, Werdum knows not to make the same mistake twice. His goal is to earn a title shot and he realizes now that no one on the path to the belt can be safely underestimated.
Werdum and Russow will meet in the co-main event of UFC 147, which takes place on Saturday, June 23 at the Mineirinho Stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
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