Fabricio Werdum hoping full respect awaits with victory at UFC 196

Fabricio Werdum has defeated mixed martial arts legend Fedor Emelianenko. He stands as Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight champion. And he’s even called out Jon Jones.

What more does he need to do to get his due?

“I think my credit is just not that good in America. My [FICO] score is less than 650,” Werdum cracked this week at a luncheon with reporters in downtown Los Angeles.

“It does [bug] me a little bit. … When I started, I didn’t have a good stand-up game, only jiu-jitsu, but I’ve changed a lot. … Now everything is different. I am the champion, I’ve achieved my goal. And for 2016, my new goal is for the fans to recognize me as the greatest.”

That strategy starts with Werdum’s Feb. 6 rematch during UFC 196 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas against former heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez.

Two-time former champion Velasquez (13-2) was choked out by Brazil’s Werdum at UFC 188 in Mexico City.

Many have speculated that Velasquez, long known for his cardio, fatigued rapidly in the fight because of Mexico City’s high altitude.

“I just don’t understand one thing: Why is everyone asking if the altitude only affected him?” Werdum asked. “Why just him? I was very tired at that moment. It was a very hard fight. He punches very hard. But I was waiting for that moment.”

Werdum preceded Velasquez in Mexico City by weeks, training in the conditions to better withstand the stress that caused a late-arriving Velasquez to wilt after he trained in San Jose.

“I think he will be in better shape this time,” Werdum said. “I expect him to come out very strong and at the top of his game.”

Werdum trains at Kings MMA in Huntington Beach along with fellow Brazilian and current UFC lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos.

Despite his standing and his stunning upset of Emelianenko by submission when the Russian was considered perhaps the top pound-for-pound MMA fighter, Werdum feels he doesn’t get the respect he deserves.

Last month, he expressed a willingness to pursue a bout with stripped light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones, who is expected to fight current light-heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier in April.

Cormier trains at the same San Jose gym with Velasquez and new middleweight champion Luke Rockhold.

Werdum’s loyalty to his gym shined when the discussion turned to new featherweight champion Conor McGregor, who unleashed a slew of verbal blows on Dos Anjos at the Las Vegas news conference this week to promote their March 5 bout on the UFC 197 card.

Werdum didn’t appear amused by those antics.

“Conor talks a lot,” Werdum said. “[That fight’s] going to be very different. It’s a different division. He will feel the difference when Rafael hits him. I don’t like it when he constantly interrupts his opponents.  That is not good.  Rafael is a very smart guy. He has a different personality, so he can remain calm. He can control himself.

“It’s very important to show respect. You have your space and I have mine. I saw when he touched [former featherweight champion] Jose [Aldo] on the head.  That isn’t good. If he did that to me, I would have smacked him in the head.”

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