Fabricio Werdum wants UFC belt, even if it's interim

Fabricio Werdum headlines UFC 180 against 40-year-old Mark Hunt

Fabricio Werdum came to Mexico City nearly two months ago hoping he’d leave with an Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight title belt.

The best he can hope for now is something less -- the UFC’s interim belt -- following last month’s training-camp knee injury to champion Cain Velasquez.

Werdum, a Brazilian who lives in the South Bay and trains there and in Huntington Beach, will instead headline UFC 180 on Saturday night in the UFC’s first pay-per-view from Mexico against 40-year-old Mark Hunt (10-8-1) of Australia.

Werdum, 37, said he’s been told Velasquez should be ready to fight within seven months, the bout again expected to take place in Mexico City.

“My cardio, my training, has been great – I have been training for five months,” said Werdum, who gained the title shot by defeating heavy-punching Travis Browne in April. “My big goal now is getting this belt.”

Werdum (18-5-1) is best known for his 2010 upset of Russia’s Fedor Emelianenko in San Jose. He’s won four consecutive bouts, and said the Browne victory showed he has more dimensions than jujitsu.

“It showed my condition, technique … more than what people expected of me,” said Werdum, who has trained with MMA veterans Lyoto Machida, Renato “Babalu” Sobral and others.

“Everybody knows Mark Hunt is a tough opponent. Good boxer, but we have high altitude here and I’ve been here the two months and Hunt has just got here.”

That indicates to Werdum the bigger Hunt probably will pursue the knockout.

“If I have the opportunity, I can end it in the first round, too, but I’m equipped to fight a very smart fight,” Werdum said.

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