Werdum: This was the best fight of my careerApril 20, 2014
Nearly six years after the UFC cut him, Fabricio Werdum has cemented his status as the promotion's No.1 heavyweight contender.
Werdum (18-5-1) was dominant in a unanimous decision over Travis Browne in the main event of a UFC on Fox card on Saturday at the Amway Center. Judges scored the contest 50-45, 50-45 and 49-46. Attendance for the event was 17,000.
The win likely will propel Werdum into a title fight against Cain Velasquez in Mexico later this year. Velasquez (13-1) is currently rehabbing a shoulder injury.
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"I'm looking forward to fighting Cain Velasquez," Werdum said. "That championship means everything in this sport and I'm excited to have the opportunity to show that I can win the title."
Browne (16-2-1), a 2/1 betting favourite in the fight, looked lost for much of it. He absorbed 171 total strikes in the five-round bout, according to Fightmetric. Browne landed 77 in comparison.
"He might have a broken rib, which totally explains why he would gas out halfway through the first round," UFC president Dana White said afterward, also confirming that Browne broke his right hand. "It's a testament to how tough that guy is to try and fight five rounds with a broken rib. That totally makes sense now."
Looking to add to a three-fight win streak, Browne looked relaxed and confident early - perhaps overly so. He was taken down for the first time in his career in the first round, but worked back to his feet quickly. Later in the round, he ate a kick to the body but responded by taunting Werdum.
The fast pace of the first round had a visible effect on Browne, as the steam wore off on his punches as early as the second frame. He started to throw mostly haymakers, which Werdum had a relatively easy time avoiding.
Werdum took him down again in the second round and moved to side control. After landing a series of punches from the top, Werdum hunted for an armbar, which Browne eventually escaped and used to get back to his feet. He was unable to get anything going, however, the rest of the round.
Late in the third, Werdum played a mind game of his own. He dropped his hands and shouted at Browne before unloading a leg kick, right hand, head kick flurry. Moments later, he hurt Browne again with a knee from the Thai clinch. Browne backed up to the fence and covered up as Werdum swarmed on him, before eventually circling away.
He mostly cruised in the final two rounds, relying on the jab to pick apart an exhausted Browne. By the end of the fight, Browne had a deep cut over his right eye.
"This was the best fight of my career," Werdum said. "I trained so hard for this one. I worked hard on every part of my game. Boxing, wrestling, jiu-jitsu, everything. I knew how good Travis was and I wanted to show everyone that I'm ready for the title shot."
Werdum has now won four in a row and is 6-1 since his UFC release in 2008. The 36-year-old's only loss in that span came to Alistair Overeem via decision in June 2011.
"I think Werdum played it safe tonight to guarantee that title shot," White said. "Who know what will happen when he fights Cain, because Cain is going to come right after him 100% - the way Travis would have tonight."
Browne falls to 7-2-1 overall in the UFC.
Tate rallies in Round 3, seals victory over Carmouche
Miesha Tate has coached on "The Ultimate Fighter" reality series, co-headlined a UFC event and fought for the promotion's title.
Now she can add another accomplishment to her resume - a win in the Octagon. Tate (14-5) overcame a sluggish start en route to a unanimous decision win, her first in the UFC, against Liz Carmouche. All three judges scored the bout 29-28.
"It was very tough fight," Tate said. "We both have such a strong fighting spirit and I knew neither one of us would quit.
"It took me a little bit to get going and then finally, in the third round, I really got my energy up and was able to do what I do best. It feels great to finally get this first UFC win."
Known for an aggressive, in-your-face style, Tate came off flat at the start of the fight. She forfeited a takedown to Carmouche (9-5) early and seemed content to sit along the fence and throw short punches rather than get back to her feet.
Carmouche secured another takedown midway through the second round, but this time Tate threatened with a guillotine and eventually used the choke to reverse position.
With the score tied, Tate dominated Carmouche in the final round. She landed a clean right hand in the centre of the cage in the opening moments and then walked through a Carmouche combination to take her down.
As Carmouche tried to scramble to her feet, Tate took her back and snuck her left arm under Carmouche's chin. A former No.1 contender, Carmouche refused to tap and managed to survive the round but lose the decision.
Tate records her first victory since a third-round submission win over Julie Kedzie in August 2012.
Carmouche falls to 1-3 in the UFC. She came up short in a decision loss to current No. 1 contender Alexis Davis in November.
Cerrone battles back from brink
As he's been known to do, Donald Cerrone put on another show.
In the midst of a firefight, Cerrone (23-6) dropped Edson Barboza with a jab, jumped on his back and tapped him with a rear-naked choke at three minutes 15 seconds of the first round.
"I definitely wish I could have gotten that win without taking so much damage from him first," Cerrone said. "The shots he hit me with finally woke me up and I kind of snapped out of it. But I was finally able to hit him with some good shots and that last one sent him down.
"I scrambled to get his back and lock in the rear-naked choke - and he wasn't getting out of that."
The finish came just when Barboza (13-2) seemed to be settling into a nice groove. The Brazilian defended several early attempts by Cerrone to take him down and was starting to find a home with the right hand during exchanges.
A member of Jackson-Winklejohn MMA in Albuquerque, Cerrone made a habit of walking forward, although he backed off once from a counter right hand. He absorbed a handful of kicks to the body as well, but none of that mattered when he landed the fight-changing jab.
Cerrone extends his win streak to three and is now 10-3 overall in the Octagon. His last two wins have come in the first round. Barboza loses for the first time since May 2012.
Romero rockets past Tavares in three-round breeze
Yoel Romero earned his biggest win yet as a UFC middleweight - and looked pretty good doing it. Romero (8-1) cruised through fellow middleweight Brad Tavares in a relatively one-sided unanimous decision. All three judges scored the bout 30-27.
A former light-heavyweight, Romero is now 4-0 since dropping to the middleweight division one year ago. All four wins have come within the UFC.
"ATT [American Top Team] was great in helping me get ready for this fight," Romero said. "We all looked very impressive tonight and were all able to win. We are all brothers at that gym. I'm excited about my next opportunity in the UFC."
A former Olympic freestyle wrestler for Cuba, Romero relied more on his offensive grappling than he has in the past. He took Tavares (12-2) down seven times in the bout, according to Fightmetric.
He hurt Tavares early with a straight left hand, which he set up with an awkward crane kick that missed badly. As Tavares covered up, Romero went low for a takedown and eventually moved to side control.
Tavares handled Romero's pressure on the floor well throughout the bout, as he consistently managed to work back to his feet without taking a ton of damage. The effort, however, would typically lead to him being taken down again.
In the second round, Romero opened a wide cut near Tavares' hairline with a well-timed counter elbow. Tavares ignored the blood that ran from the cut the rest of the contest, but could never string together much offence.
Tavares sees a five-fight win streak snapped. A former contestant on "The Ultimate Fighter," his last loss was via decision to Aaron Simpson in July 2011.