Sharing the details of training sessions that happened behind closed doors has always been a common practice in the pre-fight build to any fight. Coaches and sparring partners offer effusive praise, recounting blistering performances and new levels of conditioning while suggesting, as always, that their fighter has never looked better.
In recent years, those details have flowed more freely and come with extra seasoning in instances where the training partners turn into opponents. Whoever got the better of things makes sure to make it known, offering up colorful recollections of knockdowns and knockouts or dominant grappling performances, occasionally going as far as to offer up a sizzle reel or grainy clip from the session in question.
Fabricio Werdum has no interest in participating in the pastime in advance of his main event showdown with Alexander Volkov this weekend in London.
“I don’t want to comment too much about this training with him,” said the former champion, who spent a couple weeks working with his opponent at Kings MMA in Los Angeles when the Russian heavyweight was in town years ago. “It was very good training – he helped me a lot and I helped him too – but it’s no good when you comment about the training.
“It’s a big difference when you’re training and when you fight – a big difference,” added Werdum. “That’s why I don’t like when the fans say, ‘Oh, this fight is easy for you.’ You don’t have easy fights in the UFC. There are only hard fights in the UFC.”
The 40-year-old Brazilian speaks from experience.
Saturday’s event at the O2 Arena marks Werdum’s 16th trip into the Octagon and seventh headlining assignment, a run that includes sharing the cage some of the best fighters to ever compete in the heavyweight ranks.
It will also mark his third appearance in six months after earning victories over Walt Harris and Marcin Tybura in October and November respectively.
“I like this – I want to fight maybe five times a year, maybe more,” said Werdum. “I like fighting; this is my life. I’ve been fighting for almost 20 years, which is amazing, and I like the short (turnaround) times.
“When I fight, I’m ready to fight again – maybe I fight this week and the next week again. I don’t have a problem with this. I don’t like when I have too much time between fights. I want to fight again soon. This is my big goal now.”
While not even “Cowboy” Cerrone is afforded the opportunity compete every other weekend, Werdum’s willingness to fight whoever the UFC puts in front of him, regardless of ranking or where the event is taking place, has allowed him to quickly rebound from his UFC 213 loss to Alistair Overeem and remain in close proximity to the championship belt he once held and desperately wants to carry again.
If that means facing a surging upstart like Volkov in London or continuing to square off with top talent as many times as it takes until his number is called to challenge for the title again, so be it.
He’s chasing another title shot and is willing to do whatever it takes to get his opportunity.
“I’ve been a champion two times in the UFC,” said Werdum. “It doesn’t matter to me whether it’s an interim belt or not because it’s the same training, the same belt, and I just need the opportunity to show again that I can win the belt.
“I know the way. I’ve won it two times and I just want to show (I deserve another chance to fight for the title).
My focus is the belt, but I want to fight more and show the UFC (I deserve that chance) and to be a champ again,” he added. “I would like for the fans to say, ‘Werdum is the best of all-time.’ This is my big focus now.”
But he also understands that the only way he can accomplish those lofty goals is by continuing to stack up victories, and having handled business against Harris and Tybura last year, Werdum is eager to kick off his 2018 campaign with a win over Volkov this weekend.
“The most important thing is a victory (this weekend). One victory is one step forward, but a loss is like three steps down; everything is completely different,” he said with a laugh.”When you have a nice victory, you get interviews, sponsors, asked to do seminars. When you lose, you just go to your home and stay there because nobody wants to see you.
“This week is very important for me because I have Volkov in my mind now, but the big focus is the belt again. I promise an amazing fight and one more victory.
“I respect him, but I’m going to beat him, for sure.”