Just how do you find fault with a heavyweight battle that opens with a man weighing in north of the 225-pound floor throwing a jumping side kick, that connects flush and clearly stuns his opponent? How do you find fault in a fight that has another knockdown in the first round, with a finish only being avoided thanks to one fighter being saved by the bell?
Fan reaction to Fabricio Werdum’s battle against Travis Browne Saturday night was puzzling to be sure. The boo-birds were out early and often, with a few notable exceptions (the aforementioned kick, right off the opening bell, certainly had the fans on their feet). It was puzzling. Three rounds of solid heavyweight action. Three rounds of Fabricio Werdum being seriously creative, throwing in spinning back kicks and flying attacks, landing with solid punches and knees.
For his part, Browne was less effective in his offense, but he took the fight the distance, and was a game opponent. He even survived a weird moment with a possible broken thumb, where the ref paused the action (something not in the rule book) so that the injury could be checked out.
Still, credit to Browne for fighting through it.
Even light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier was perplexed by the fan reaction, suggesting they “respect the fight” on Twitter while the action was still unfolding.
Maybe it’s that Cleveland is “new” to the fight game, at least as far as live events are concerned. With no live commentary, no Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan to walk them through the action, maybe they were a little lost. Maybe they’re of the just bleed, quick finish variety. Maybe they just wanted Werdum vs. Browne out of the way, so they could get to the main event and their hometown hero, Stipe Miocic.
Whatever the reason, pay the fan reaction to this fight no mind. On repeat viewings, it’s going to hold up better than most think. It was a bizarre, entertaining three rounds of fighting, and frankly, though there will be an argument to the contrary, it should have vaulted Werdum right back into title contention.
How can you not love the start to that fight. How can you not love that rather than changing his style after being called reckless in the fight that cost him his title, he instead opted for flashy strikes and more reckless behavior? It might not have been the smartest game plan, but right now, a second fight with Miocic is welcome option. Cain Velasquez may get the first crack, but Werdum hopefully won’t be far behind.
And either way, Werdum vs. Browne 2 felt like a moment from Gladiator. Are you not entertained? Because frankly, you should have been.