ORLANDO, Fla. – Fabrico Werdum became the top contender for the UFC heavyweight title by winning a unanimous decision against Travis Browne, who trains at Albuquerque’s Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA, in the main event of Saturday’s UFC card at the Amway Arena.
Fellow J-W fighter Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone was dominant in his win on the undercard and Albuquerque-trained Ray Borg of FIT-NHB was impressive in his UFC debut despite losing a split decision.
Werdum (18-5-1) earned his fourth victory since rejoining UFC. The judges scored it 49-46, 50-45 and 50-45 for the five-round bout, setting up a fight for Werdum against champion Cain Velasquez.
“I proved that I’m ready for a championship fight,” Werdum said. “I’m a complete fighter.”
Werdum has been the presumptive choice for a title shot for several months, but he elected not to wait around longer than a year while Velasquez recovered from surgery on a torn labrum in his left shoulder. Velasquez won’t be ready to return until late fall after getting hurt in his second victory over Junior Dos Santos last October.
UFC officials said Browne broke his right hand and possibly a rib in the opening round.
Cerrone got Edson Barboza to tap out in the first round in a middleweight battle earlier in the night. Cerrone, whose agent is NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick, caught Barboza with a left to the chin for the knockdown, and got the submission with a naked choke hold at the 3:15 mark. Barboza appeared to have the early advantage, landing 28 strikes.
Borg, who was so impressive in a win 15 days earlier at Route 66 that the UFC signed him to Saturday’s card, lost a split decision to Dustin Ortiz 29-28, 29-28 and 28-29.
“The general consensus is Ray Borg won the fight, but it went to the judges which is always scary,” trainer Tom Vaughn of FIT-NHB told the Journal in an email after the fight. “If anything, Ray could have pushed the action a little more. When he did he always ended in superior position. Ray was a big underdog and despite the loss his stock went up. UFC was totally jazzed with Ray’s performance tonight.”
Strikeforce women’s bantamweight champion Meisha Tate (14-5) won a unanimous decision against Liz Carmouche (8-5) for her first victory in UFC. All three judges had it 29-28. Carmouche had two takedowns in the opening round and held off Tate in the second, but Tate got Carmouche in a choke hold with a minute left in the third.