UFC 180 Fight Breakdown: Fabricio Werdum vs. Mark Hunt

Fabricio-Werdum The main event of UFC 180 is a five-round title fight for the interim UFC heavyweight championship between Fabricio Werdum and Mark Hunt. According to the current betting lines available at Several Bookmakers, Werdum is a -420 favorite (bet $420 to win $100) while Hunt is a +335 underdog (bet $100 to win $335). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened up Werdum at -300 and Hunt at +220, and the betting public has been all over Werdum since the opener. I lean towards Werdum in this fight and absolutely think he should be the favorite, but at this point I don’t see any value on him as such a steep favorite. Here’s why. Werdum (18-5-1) is one of the top heavyweight fighters in MMA. The 37-year-old Brazilian is 6-2 in the UFC with wins over Travis Browne, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Roy Nelson, Mike Russow, Brandon Vera and Gabriel Gonzaga and loses to Andrei Arlovski and Junior dos Santos. In addition to those wins in the UFC, Werdum also has victories over the likes of Fedor Emelianenko, Alistair Overeem, and Bigfoot Silva. Werdum came from a BJJ background and his submission ability is top notch as his nine tapout wins would attest to. If he can get his opponents to the ground, they are in serious dangerous of being tapped out, even guys with solid submission defence like Fedor and Big Nog. Although Werdum’s striking was always his weak point, he has worked hard on improving that aspect of his game and at this point I’d argue he’s one of the most technical strikers in the division. He is extremely tall and long and keeps his range well, and when he gets in close he has a deadly muay Thai clinch. He definitely has knockout power as well, and has five T/KO wins to his credit. His wrestling and cardio have also improved drastically in recent fights. Werdum has been outstruck before and he has been knocked out, and going up against a top striker like Hunt could expose those issues once again, but odds are he goes back to his bread and butter in his BJJ to get the win, and that’s why he’s such a big favorite in this fight. Hunt (10-8-1) is one of the top heavyweights contenders in the UFC. The 40-year-old New Zealander is 5-2-1 in the UFC with wins over Roy Nelson, Stefan Struve, Cheick Kongo, Ben Rothwell and Chris Tuchscherer, with a draw against Bigfoot Silva and losses to Junior dos Santos and Sean McCorkle. Hunt came from a striking background and not surprisingly he’s shown that part of his game off in the UFC, with a spectacular, walk-away knockout of iron-chinned Nelson his greatest accomplishment. Although he once had one of the worst ground games in the sport — he lost six fights by submission during an 0-7 stretch in his career at one point — he has worked hard to improve his takedown defence and submission defence, and has shown in the UFC that he’s not a fish out of water on the ground anymore. Still, he’ll be taking on a BJJ ace in Werdum in this fight, and while he has shown improvements, those submission defence problems could potentially come back to haunt him in this bout. Having said that, Hunt definitely has a puncher’s chance, and if he can connect on Werdum’s chin he definitely has a chance to pull off what was once an improbable upset. More times than not, I see Werdum finding a way to get this fight to the ground and getting a submission victory over Hunt, probably by armbar. But with Hunt’s recent improvements in his takedown defence, if he’s able to keep this fight standing he absolutely has the power to put Werdum out with one shot, so I just feel like laying big juice on Werdum is a bad play. Yes, Werdum has only been knocked out once, but don’t forget it was by an uppercut from JDS, and Hunt’s speciality is his uppercut. If he can keep this fight standing, he is absolutely the more powerful striker and can win this fight, even with Werdum’s recent improvements in his striking. All in all, it’s a great fight, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens. My pick is Werdum by submission, and that prop will likely have some value when it’s released, but as far as the moneyline goes, I recommend passing on Werdum and looking for better spots on the card to bet on instead.

Written by Adam Martin.

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