Fabricio Werdum isn’t necessarily surprised to see Alexander Gustafsson moving up in weight to meet him at UFC Fight Island 3.
That’s because “The Mauler,” not to mention UFC light heavyweight champ Jon Jones, are truly heavyweights, Werdum (23-9-1) said Tuesday. Speaking to Cageside Press and other media outlets in a virtual press scrum for this weekend’s event, the former heavyweight champion said simply that it comes down to size.
“I wasn’t surprised [at Gustafsson moving up] because I think him and Jon Jones are heavyweights that cut down to light heavyweight,” opined Werdum. “Jon Jones is my size, Gustafsson is a little bit bigger. I think they walk around at 220, 230lbs. So they’re natural heavyweights.”
This weekend’s main card fight against Gustafsson will be the second for Werdum since returning from a lengthy USADA suspension. In his first fight back, he wound up losing a split decision to Aleksei Oleinik. The two grapplers engaged in a sloppy yet entertaining battle on the feet, with Werdum taking a healthy amount of criticism for how rusty he looked.
Rather than just time away, Werdum pointed to the coronavirus pandemic as the culprit.
“I didn’t train as well as I should have for that fight,” he said. “The pandemic was just starting so I couldn’t do as much as I could [normally]. Even though the pandemic is on now, I just felt like I needed to take a fight and keep up my fighting pace. I’m 42-years old, so I want to fight as much as possible.”
Werdum’s camp for the Oleinik fight also lacked sparring. He learned the hard way that a complete lack of sparring in training camp is a bad idea, something he’s changed up ahead of the Gustafsson match-up. But beyond that, it’s clear that Werdum is also feeling father time nipping at his heels. At 42, his career is unquestionably winding down.
“It’s hard for us as fighters to know when that time is, to talk about [retirement] and to realize when that is coming,” he admitted. So it’s something he’ll be looking more closely at after July 25, and UFC Fight Island 3.
In the meantime, the former Strikeforce/Pride vet and UFC heavyweight champ gave his pick for the greatest heavyweight of all time. And it’s someone Werdum himself holds a win over. “Definitely Fedor [Emelianenko],” he said. “You don’t even have to think much about this.”
Fabricio Werdum meets Alexander Gustafsson on the main card of UFC Fight Island 3 (UFC on ESPN 14) this Saturday, July 25. The card airs live on ESPN (TSN in Canada).