JACKSONVILLE, FL. – Former UFC Heavyweight Champions Junior Dos Santos and Fabricio Werdum will both look to make emphatic statements when they pick up their rivalry on Friday, September 8 headlining Jorge Masvidal’s Gamebred Bareknuckle MMA from VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla. The event will stream live and for free on the Gamebred Bareknuckle MMA YouTube page.
“Fans can expect another knockout on September 8,” said Dos Santos, who won their 2008 clash via emphatic first-round knockout. “I’m going to knock him out again and that’s 100%.”
“I don’t think about the past,” said Werdum. “I think about today and the future. I’m a different fighter now. My focus is totally on my training. In my mind, I’m 28 and I feel great. Fans should expect us to make history on September 8.”
For Dos Santos, he remembers his first clash with Werdum as a seminal moment in his career that launched him on a path toward stardom, and described the motivation he gained from Werdum’s trash talk at the time.
“My fight against Werdum was probably the most important fight of my UFC career,” said Dos Santos. “He was supposed to fight for the title and then I ruined their plans. Coming from Brazil, I was a big dreamer, and suddenly I was on the biggest show and fighting a guy that I was a fan of. I almost felt like I was flying it was so special. Everything was so new and I was so nervous. Werdum was talking a lot of trash, but when people try to put my back against the wall, I fight back.”
Werdum was able to rebound from the defeat and eventually become a world champion, and while he’s 100% focused on having his hand raised September 8, he is adamant that revenge is not his main motivator.
“Settling the score or not, I want to win,” said Werdum. “Whether it’s by knockout, submission or whatever means necessary. This is a big moment for me. We’ve had a great training camp and I want to show that in this fight. My goal is to go back home to my family and friends, have a big barbecue, celebrate and enjoy the moment.”
With this upcoming rematch, the fighters will shed the gloves and engage in a bareknuckle clash that promises even more violence. Both fighters have embraced that aspect of this rematch, although they don’t believe it will change their strategies.
“When they asked me about this fight, I said I love the idea of bareknuckle,” said Werdum. “This is old school, like Vale Tudo. I love the idea of minimal rules and I told Jorge that.”
“We’re very different fighters now, but our main strategies don’t change that much,” said Dos Santos. “He’s a grappler and I’m a striker. I’ll be looking to knock him out. He’s gotten better with his striking, but I see him trying to grapple me. Once again, it’s not going to work.”
Although the showdown will once again pit a striker against a grappler, both fighters downplayed their opponent’s strategy when discussing the fight. Instead, both fighters spoke to their self-belief and confidence that they’re at a point in their career where they’re ready to seize this moment that’s presented itself.
“I’ve watched a lot of Dos Santos’ fights and I don’t expect him to be much different than usual,” said Werdum. “But I’m only thinking about my training. I respect him, but in my mind I just focus on my camp and my preparation. I was born a fighter and that’s it. We’re going to put on a great fight for everybody.”
“Where I’m at in my life, I have a better understanding of what I’m responsible for,” concluded Dos Santos. “This might be the first time in my whole life that I’ll only be fighting my opponent, not myself too. He’s one of the best jiu jitsu fighters in MMA heavyweight history. But it doesn’t really matter because it’s not about him. It’s about me and what I’m capable of doing.”
Tickets for the live event are on sale now and can be purchased through Ticketmaster.com.
Roberto Villa is the CEO, Founder, Executive Writer, Senior Editor of FightBook MMA. Has a passion for Combat Sports and also a podcast host for Sitting Ringside. He’s also a former MMA fighter and Kickboxer.