UFC 188 headlines a battle of the titans when heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez defends his title against the veteran Fabricio Werdum. Let’s analyze where the advantages lie and determine our UFC picks for this title clash.
Tale of the Tape
Fabricio Werdum Cain Velasquez
Height 6’4” 6’1”
Reach 76” 73”
Weight 239 lbs. 240 lbs.
Record 19-5-1 (6 KO’s, 9 Subs) 13-1 (11 KO’s, 0 Subs)
Age 37 32
Nobody has cardio like Cain Velasquez. The man is like a self-winding watch – as long as he’s moving he keeps ticking. He went five grueling rounds twice with one of the most punishing knockout artists on the planet in Junior dos Santos. The only time he didn’t either finish an opponent or win a decision was in his first match with dos Santos when he was caught in the first round by a devastating overhand right. That had nothing to do with cardio and everything to do with getting knocked the f****d out!
Werdum’s cardio is not in question but it is not a hallmark of his MMA career as it is Velasquez’s. The very nature of Werdum’s style is a ground attack which is a different speed and tempo than stand-up where we have never witnessed Velasquez wilt when launching bombs and catching rockets in return.
You can talk all day long about how far Werdum’s striking has come but it will never be on par with the most prolific KO artist in all of MMA. Cain Velasquez not only wields bone-crushing power but has the piston-like jab of a boxer. He will reel off endless combinations because his world-class cardio permits it. You will typically see Velasquez parry with a jab and then reach for every tool in the shed whether it be hard rights, uppercuts, hooks or elbows. Velasquez has the unique ability as a heavyweight to bring a Gatling gun attack with the power of a rocket launcher.
The immediate knee-jerk reaction would put this skill in Werdum’s column but not so fast. Velasquez is a former D-1 wrestler and holds a black belt in BJJ under Leandro Viera but his ground game is often overlooked due to his fierce striking ability. Oftentimes he ragdolls his opponents to the canvas after a withering standup attack softens them up for the kill. Velasquez can maintain a dominant top position while continuing his relentless ground-and-pound which often spells doom for his opponents.
Fabricio Werdum is not a wrestler per se but he is the gold standard when it comes to BJJ. Werdum is a BJJ World Champion while holding black belts in Judo and Muay Thai. He has won numerous international events in submission grappling and is lethal when the fight hits the mat. That being said if we are judging this strictly on the numbers we can see that Velasquez averages 5.28 takedowns per fight while Werdum averages a mere 1.83. The champion’s takedowns defended is 88.89 percent versus only 36.67 percent for Werdum.
We won’t even try to make a case for Cain Velasquez in this category. Even the most proficient mat tactician would pale compared to Werdum. UFC odds makers know that the champion has no submissions on his record while Werdum has won nine of his 19 fights in this manner. Whether Werdum is in the guard or on top, his submission skills are sublime and he can end the fight from any angle, anytime and anywhere. Velasquez would be wise to avoid the dragon’s lair and be seduced into proving he is the superior ground fighter. Werdum is a beast on the mat.
I would advise you to turn to an excellent resource for the UFC 188 Prop Betting Odds on this heavyweight showdown. The bottom line is that Cain Velasquez is in the prime of his career but has close to two years of ring rust since his last fight in October of 2013. Injuries have derailed the champ’s defense of his title but he is now healthy and ready to rumble. Werdum is a 37-year-old veteran with miles and miles of elite competition behind him and this could be his greatest victory or the beginning of his swan song.
I believe Velasquez will keep this fight standing up which will put Werdum in the unenviable position of standing toe-to-toe with perhaps the most devastating striker in the world. Werdum could get off a clean shot and rock Velasquez as dos Santos did in the champ’s only loss of his career but I wouldn’t count on it.
My UFC picks on this fight are as follows:
Velasquez wins by KO/TKO/DQ (-120)
Velasquez wins in Round 2 (+500)