Sherdog’s Gleidson Venga spoke with Fabricio Werdum recently regarding his upcoming bout with Gabriel Gonzaga set for Saturday night. In the interview, Werdum spoke about how Chute Box has improved his “aggressiveness” and that his striking and ground game have improved significantly. He realizes that Gonzaga has improved greatly, but he has also improved his skills significantly since their Jungle Fight showdown back in September of 2003. Werdum told Venga that the rematch should produce the fight of the night.The fight itself hasn’t been touted as being a matchup that can sell, but it’s definitely a battle to see who can progress toward the top of the heap. Werdum is primarily known for his slick jiu-jitsu skills, and he has shown some ground and pound technique in the past. Gonzaga is also a black belt jiu-jitsu fighters with some good striking as well. If Werdum’s striking has improved significantly by moving to Chute Box, look for this fight to produce some fireworks. Both men have well-rounded grappling, but Werdum will want to prove his striking is dangerous. Gonzaga will be more than game to strike with Werdum.
Werdum’s success at Chute Box is self-proclaimed, but their history recently doesn’t look good on paper. The Rua brothers left the team, and Wanderlei Silva moved away from Chute Box for the States. Many fighters are beginning to move toward the United States to gain a wrestling base that has been regarded as being the building blocks for a fighter. Is Chute Box’s failures recently due to the UFC’s talent base becoming more skillful in avoiding the standup and using their wrestling abilities?
It’s tough to say. Many of the Chute Box faithful have simply run into tougher fighters. Fabio Silva got brutalized by Dutch kickboxer Melvin Manhoef, Luiz Azeredo was crushed by “The Crusher” Kawajiri, Andre “Dida” Amade was defeated by Gesias Calvancante, and Daniel Acacio lost the anticipated BTT vs. Chute Box showdown at Fury FC to “Toquinho”. The only real deal currently moving up the UFC’s ladder is Thiago Silva.
Werdum’s chances may be better though. He already has a solid grappling background, and striking will only help him in the clinches, especially with better Muay Thai training. Werdum is confident that his striking skills will improve his game immensely, and when we heard he was moving to Chute Box, most MMA fans agreed that it was the right move for his career. This should be a much closer fight than many believe, and it should be exciting to see if Werdum’s improvement can counter “Napao”.