Even considering the multitude of new fathers, husbands and lottery winners in the world today, there is still a good chance that Fabricio Werdum is currently the happiest man on the planet. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist did what many considered to be impossible and submitted living legend Fedor Emelianenko last Saturday night at Strikeforce: Fedor Vs. Werdum in San Jose, California. Many would be reeling from the improbability of the win but Werdum, although ecstatic, was confident in his ability to win all along and even wishes to oblige Fedor’s desire for a rematch.
“I want a rematch,” said Werdum during the post-fight press conference. “I’m ready to fight anyone Scott [Coker] wants me to fight.”
Further proving the presence of his warrior spirit, Werdum commented to media as to how he was able to move beyond “The Last Emperor’s” unbeatable, Mike Tyson-esque aura to submit PRIDE FC’s last heavyweight champion.
“I never fear a fight,” said “Vai Cavallo.” “I like to fight. It’s my life. I looked at Fedor, and I was confident because my training is hard training. I know this is Fedor, but I believe in myself.”
Werdum elaborated on the details of that hard training and credits his friends and teammates for helping him along to victory.
“I trained on the ground,” Werdum said. “I trained standup. I trained wrestling. [Muhammad] ‘King Mo’ [Lawal], the champion, helped me. I trained everything, but the plan was on the ground because I started in jiu-jitsu. I’m training all the time in jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai, wrestling, boxing. It’s very important to be surrounded by a good vibe and people that believe in you. You have a team behind you, and they believe in you, and that helps you step-up your game.”
The two-time ADCC submission grappling world heavyweight champion was on his way to becoming another clip in Emelianenko’s highlight reel as the stoic Russian used his patented haymakers to knock Werdum off of his feet and, seemingly, into a world of trouble. When asked to describe how he got through those harrowing early moments, Werdum honestly admitted that he had no recollection of even getting hit.
“I don’t remember the fight right now,” Werdum said. “I don’t have a memory of it right now. Fedor punched me? I’m not joking, I’m serious. Maybe those punches affected my mind. He’s a strong guy.”
Werdum did have the presence of mind, however, to submit one of the greatest fighters who ever lived and luckily he had regained enough consciousness at that point to remember exactly how he did it.
“I think because it was the first round, there was no sweat,” Werdum said. “Maybe the second round, it’s not possible because there’s a lot of sweat and he’s slippery. Maybe it’s not possible, the triangle. But the first round doesn’t have the sweat, and it’s better for me.”
“My finish is good,” Werdum went on. “It’s a strong triangle. I tried to choke the neck, too. After the armbar, I changed it (back and forth) maybe four times. One time I went strong on the arm, but Fedor tried to defend. I gripped my shin, and after I tried the armbar one more time, Fedor maybe tapped – the fake tap – and I tried the neck again.”
The grappling expert knew going into the fight that submitting Fedor was his best chance at victory and knew that the opportunity to grab that submission would be fleeting. So it was that when that brief opportunity presented itself, Werdum grabbed ahold for dear life and refused to let go.
“I wanted [the fight] on the ground,” Werdum said. “Maybe I’d try a triangle, or I’d try a kimura or a leglock, but I saw the triangle. I saw the chance, and I didn’t let it go. This choke is a double. It’s an armbar and a choke on the neck. It’s both. Did everybody see? This choke, I will show at the next seminar.”
While unfortunately not exactly placing himself in Fedor’s throne as the best heavyweight fighter in the world, Werdum certainly set the world’s heavyweight fighters on notice as he sent massive shockwaves throughout their division. He also raised his stock drastically,a fact that will certainly play into his favor whenever he should enter into contract renegotiations. Werdum did the unthinkable Saturday night and will always be remembered as the first man who legitimately took down “The Last Emperor.” He has every right in the world to celebrate and, judging by his and his teammates’ mood after the fight, celebrate he will.