By: Fasika Zelealem
Not only is UFC 249 a crazy card for multiple reasons, but we also get to see the return of former UFC Heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum to the octagon.
Werdum was flagged for a USADA doping violation in September 2018 after the substance trenbolone was found in his system and he was subsequently suspended from competition for two years. His two-year suspension was reduced to 10 months for substantial assistance which made his clash with Aleksei Oleinik at UFC 249 possible.
Werdum’s last fight in the octagon ended in a KO defeat to Aleksander Volkov in March 2018, making it two years and two months since his last fight. He enters the ring against a fellow 42-year-old in Aleksei Oleinik whose last fight was just four months ago when he submitted Maurice Green at UFC 246 in January.
Oleinik, one of the greatest submission artists the heavyweight division has seen, scored a whopping five submissions in his last eight fights including the Ezekiel choke TWICE, becoming the first fighter in the UFC to win by Ezekiel choke and then do it a second time.
A Heavyweight Submission Battle at UFC 249: Werdum Odds vs. Oleinik
This is a fight that will be decided on the ground and will be a major spectacle for all grapplers out there. Ariel Helwani of ESPN talked about how the fight may go and how Werdum may look like after over two years out.
“It’s a dream matchup for fans of heavyweight grappling. This might be the best heavyweight grappling matchup ever on paper. I’m also curious to see how Werdum looks coming off his USADA suspension and two-year layoff.
“His head coach, Rafael Cordeiro, told me Monday that he thinks Werdum (UFC 249 Odds: -330) knocks out the Russian, and while that sounds great, I sort of feel like that will be a let-down. I want to see these guys grapple, and I want the fight to end via submission.”
Grapplers were treated to welterweight clash between Demian Maia and Ben Askren last year and now get to witness another fight of elite grappling in the heavyweight division. Oleinik (Odds: +260) even commented on the importance of this fight and what Werdum’s strategy might be coming into the fight.
“It’s really a fight for the best grappler in heavyweight and UFC. Maybe the best grappler of all-time,” Oleinik said to BJPENN.com. “Maybe this can be for the BMS, best motherf****r submission title. It will be a great experience. We have many wins and submissions combined.”
“Werdum is one of the best grapplers of all-time,” he said. “I’m not sure if it will be a grappling match though. Fabricio believes in his striking technique. In my opinion, I think he will try and strike with me.”
While the fight will not move any chains in the title picture, it’s one on the prelims of the UFC 249 but on any other event, it’s a sure-fire main event. The return of Werdum is enough to tune in but couple that with the grappling and submission skills of his opponent, which makes the fight unmissable.