It's easy to describe Fabricio Werdum's victory over Fedor Emelianenko as just that, but the Brazilian doesn't want that win to be the only thing people remember him for in the sport of MMA. He's readying for an early 2011 comeback to prove it.
Following the win over Emelianenko, Werdum had to undergo elbow surgery that sidelined the fighter for the remainder of 2010. Now making his way back to the gym again, Werdum is going through the right steps to make sure his recovery happens as quickly and safely as possible.
"He's doing great actually," Richard Wilner, Werdum's manager told MMAWeekly.com on Monday. "He's still undergoing physical therapy, and physical therapy is more intense than one might imagine, and it includes a number of plyometric exercises and weightlifting. He started light training about 10 days ago, so he's progressing remarkably."
Werdum will leave the United States in just over a week to embark on a trip to teach seminars across Europe including stops in Spain, France, Croatia, and Italy. He will then return home to get friend and training partner Renato "Babalu" Sobral ready for his December fight against Dan Henderson for Strikeforce.
As far as his own fight future, assuming everything stays on track, Werdum will be ready to return to the cage in the first part of 2011.
"We've been training and preparing, mentally and physically to fight again at either the end of February or early March," Wilner said.
The opponents for Werdum's return to Strikeforce seem to narrow down to only two names, Alistair Overeem or Fedor Emelianenko. While Wilner is quick to point out that they aren't opposed to any match-up, the choice of the next fighter to face Werdum is an important one for the Brazilian.
"We don't pick our opponents, and I don't say that to mean it's only up to Strikeforce who we fight, though there is truth to that. We don't come from a camp where we hand pick opponents, so whatever fight makes sense, that's the fight we take," Wilner stated.
Werdum holds wins over both of his potential next fights, defeating Overeem in 2006 and of course the victory over Emelianenko earlier this year. Either fight would make sense, but according to Wilner the former Pride heavyweight champion has the biggest case for a second crack at Werdum.
"Be it against Alistair (Overeem) for the belt, although Fabricio's already beaten Alistair, so some may see that as a step back, although Alistair is a completely different fighter now. By step back, we absolutely mean no disrespect to Alistair, we just mean that they fought before and while it was a long time ago, I don't even know if it would be considered a rematch, but if it was considered a rematch there's one guy out there thatвЂ™s arguably deserving of a rematch more than Alistair, and that's Fedor (Emelianenko)," Wilner said.
Currently, Fedor Emelianenko has one fight remaining on his current deal with Strikeforce, and there's been no word on if an agreement between his management team at M-1 Global and the promotion will be sorted out any time soon. Wilner admits that they've had no contact with M-1 Global or Strikeforce about bringing in Fedor for a shot at redemption against Werdum.
"We haven't negotiated that and we're open to anything," he said about a second fight with Fedor.
While other names have popped up in the Strikeforce heavyweight division, such as recent signee Josh Barnett, Werdum's manager believes it all comes down to Overeem or Emelianenko. No other choice makes sense.
"That's the feeling that we have," Wilner said about Werdum's next fight. "No disrespect to Josh (Barnett), he's a great competitor, and we know him well, but it makes no sense for us or for Strikeforce as an organization for Josh to be able to step right in and fight Fabricio. He needs to earn that right."
Werdum will continue to rehab and get ready for his 2011 return and wait for Strikeforce to make the call as to who he will face in his next fight.