When Fabricio Werdum first entered MMA he was known purely as a grappler based on his well-documented success in BJJ. However, when he enters the Octagon on Saturday night at UFC 143 he’ll do so as a polished pugilist who is as comfortable knocking an opponent out as he is with submitting him.

The evolution of Werdum’s game is a direct product of his relationship with Chute Boxe, now Kings MMA, trainer Rafael Cordeiro who is known for his work with strikers like Wanderlei Silva, Mauricio Rua, and Anderson Silva. The 14-5-1 Werdum spoke some about how far his stand-up has come, as well as his bout this weekend against Roy Nelson and what lies beyond, in an interview with the UFC’s website where his comfort with all phases of MMA was clearly evident.

“I’m training everyday with my master Rafael Cordeiro. A few months ago I got my black belt in Muay Thai, and I’m ready to strike the whole time if I need to,” explained Werdum.

While Nelson has similarly showed skill on the ground and when it comes to exchanging leather, Werdum isn’t concerned about encountering anything he hasn’t seen before as he understands any opponent he’ll face in the UFC poses significant danger.

“Roy Nelson is a good boxer and good grappler, but I’m ready for him and to prove my value in the Octagon,” said Werdum. “I’m very happy to be back, this is an opportunity that I was waiting for a long time and now I’m ready to take it.”

Werdum believes a win over Nelson will put him within sniffing distance of the UFC heavyweight championship. Still, he’s not looking past Nelson nor does he have a preference in who he’ll face to eventually earn the company’s gold.

“I just will look for my title shot against anyone that will be in my way. This is a very good division, with so many good fighters, and I will look for my spotlight and my way for the title.”

Werdum-Nelson will be featured on the PPV portion of UFC 143 with the main card broadcast starting at 10:00 PM EST. Preliminary pairings air on Facebook/FX three hours earlier.