Back in 2008, Fabricio Werdum left the UFC following a loss to former champion Junior dos Santos.
Seven years later, Werdum is the undisputed heavyweight champion after scoring a third round submission win vs. Cain Velasquez Saturday night at UFC 188.
Last year, Werdum (20-5-1) won the interim title after an injury forced Velasquez to the sidelines. The win was his sixth straight, including fourth finish, since returning to the promotion.
“I have a big dream, and today, I got it,” Werdum said. “I am very happy. Thank you everybody, thank you my country of Brazil, thank you to my team.
“I have the best team in the world.”
The end result of Werdum, a master in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, winning via submission wasn’t a surprise. But the way he dominated Velasquez on the feet was. Werdum landed several big-time punches that left the now former two-time champion wobbly and almost out.
In terms of the stats, Werdum connected on 96 of 174 significant strikes, while Velasquez was 117-for-201 overall.
“I was here for (many) days to adjust to the altitude,” he said. “I had a good strategy.”
Outside of a 2011 loss to Alistair Overeem in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, Werdum has won each of his last nine fights. That includes a 2010 submission win over Fedor Emelianenko and victories vs. Travis Browne, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Roy Nelson and Antonio Silva.