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UFC 143 Preview: Fabricio Werdum vs. Roy Nelson

Fabricio WerdumMMAFrenzy’s coverage of Saturday’s main card continues with our preview of a heavyweight battle between Fabricio Werdum and Roy Nelson. Stay tuned to MMAFrenzy as we break down each fight on the main card and conclude with the main event interim welterweight championship bout between Nick Diaz and Carlos Condit.

Keys for Fabricio Werdum (Chris Leslie)-
I have long believed that Fabricio Werdum is one of the best heavyweights in the world and it is hard to argue that he is not. His only losses since 2008 have been to former Strikeforce champion Alistair Overeem and UFC heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos. He’s a large heavyweight with solid muay thai and some of the best BJJ in the business.

With Nelson, Werdum is facing a very strong BJJ practitioner who has a lot of power in his hands. Werdum can take advantage of this on his feet and he should.  Werdum has both a reach and height advantage on Nelson, and while that didn’t mean much in Nelson vs. Struve, Werdum can take advantage of this by utilizing his reach and circling away with a stiff jab to stop Nelson’s haymakers. Werdum can win this on his feet and it makes sense to keep it there. One of the biggest parts of keeping this fight standing is to control the fence, Werdum cannot allow himself to get pinned against the fence for long periods of time. If he can keep this fight in the center, he can pick Nelson apart with counterstrikes and possibly secure takedowns as well.
One key thing to keep an eye on though is Werdum’s health, there were conflicting reports of his knee’s health during and following the Overeem fight. Once the knee starts to go bad, it usually doesn’t stop. So Werdum’s health is something to watch.

Keys for Roy Nelson (Bryan Robison)-
It seems Roy Nelson finds his way onto every UFC card in Las Vegas. Well, here he is again. He has taken on a gauntlet of opponents during his UFC career, with Junios dos Santos, Frank Mir, and Mirko Cro Cop as his last three opponents. That streak continues on Saturday with Nelson welcoming Fabricio Werdum back to the UFC.

Regarding Nelson, he has high confidence in his striking, specifically the power in his right hand. While he does not possess the overall striking of Werdum’s most recent opponent, Alistair Overeem, he has a better knockout ratio during his MMA career, with 40% of his fights ending in knockout. Meanwhile, Overeem has just a 31% knockout ratio during his career.

Nelson will look to do what he has always done, get inside his opponent’s range, and slam him with hard hooks. At 6’0, he knows he will rarely have a reach advantage, so he has always had a solid ability to make his way inside. Even though Werdum’s ability on the feet has come a long way over the last five years, he will still have to deal with Nelson’s power.

Plus, Nelson is one of the few guys that can hold his own against arguably the top heavyweight grappler in MMA in Werdum. While Nelson can be overpowered with wrestling, as seen in the bout with Frank Mir, Werdum does not possess that controlling strength.

In order to win, Nelson will have to make the fight look similar to Overeem’s gameplan, which is to keep it standing as long as he can. He will have to resist underestimating Werdum’s striking, which Overeem did not, which nearly cost him the decision.

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