It’s hard to blame fans or the media for putting such a huge portion of the spotlight on the headlining bout at UFC 143 between Nick Diaz and Carlos Condit but it is far from the card’s only match-up with implications on a division’s contendership scene. Co-headliners Roy Nelson and Fabricio Werdum are both considered to be among the top heavyweights in MMA, each possessing a handful of impressive wins and well-rounded arsenal of skills. While neither will earn a title-shot in victory tonight, each can move much closer to a crack at a championship by defeating the other given the weight-class’ lack of clear cut challengers.
Nelson and Werdum both recently opened up about tonight’s fight where it was clear each was eyeing UFC gold in 2012.
“I’m happy to be back in the UFC. I’m ready to prove my value and to show all the work I have been doing the last couple months. I think I deserved to return after a few fights in Strikeforce. For sure Roy Nelson is dangerous and a very tough fight. It is important for me to make (an impression) in my first fight back in the Octagon,” explained Werdum before making his true intentions known.
“I want the UFC title. I want a rematch with Junior dos Santos after he beats Alistair Overeem.”
An out-of-shape and perhaps overconfident Werdum was knocked out by Dos Santos in the Brazilian champ’s 2008 debut. Dos Santos is expected to face Overeem this summer though no specific date/location has been set.
As far as Nelson, who also lost to “Cigano” but in far less devastating fashion, he also believes a win over someone with Werdum’s credentials will likely put him within one more victory of an opportunity to win the belt.
“Beating Werdum will change the landscape of the division for me,” said Nelson. “From a ranking perspective, I think this win would take me to #3 or #4. I am here to win the world title, that’s my goal. Even when I lost to Junior, I didn’t slip down (the rankings) too much and I got a lot of fans for that fight. I’m the guy in the division who is having fun fights and I’m hoping to have another (tonight).”
Preliminary pairings for UFC 143 fire up at 7:00 PM EST on Facebook/FX with PPV action beginning at 10:00 PM EST.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC