You would be hard pressed to find two superior grappling minds in the heavyweight division’s sample size that are of a higher caliber than the likes of Aleksei Oleinik and Fabricio Werdum. That reality created a mutual respect between the two heavyweights that culminated in call-outs from each fighter respectively. Each guy was looking to test their grappling prowess opposite the other, and was each confident in how their game would stack up.
The two squared off Saturday night in what can be called a moving night in the heavyweight division, with a trio of bouts between the big boys, slated to shuffle the rankings in the division.
The consensus belief heading into the heavyweight encounter that would see the return of Fabricio Werdum, was that, given his grappling superiority over the division paired with his much-improved striking— he would have a stylistic advantage over the submission-minded Russian.
That did not seem to be the case however, in the fight’s opening stanza.
Oleinik, in ever-familiar Aleksei Oleinik fashion, walked forward towards the Brazilian constantly in order to remain in close quarters. Usually, Oleinik uses this approach to set up the tricks that lie up his sleeve for his submission attacks. Oleinik this time around however, was not doing that. The Russian veteran of over 70 fights, was throwing bombs at Werdum. He stunned Werdum on more than one occasion, and overwhelmed him for much of the round. Werdum would surely need to adjust something, somehow, once he left the stool for the second round.
Werdum’s first submission attempt came early in round two, a guillotine choke similar to his setup of the title winning finish over Cain Velasquez, a guillotine attempt from a failed entry on an Oleinik takedown. However, Werdum this time around, was unsuccessful dropping down into the choke and the action continued onward.
Nearly three minutes into the round, Werdum was in control in the first action on the ground following a successful takedown. Not long after the takedown, Werdum had his back however was just a little bit too high. Oleinik successfully got back to his feet as a result, and went right back to walking down the former champion.
Werdum found himself on top, once again in round three, setting up a dangerous looking armbar before Oleinik beautifully escaped and transitioned to top position. Werdum being the submission specialist he is, then transitioned to a kimura trap that had Oleinik wincing in pain momentarily. Werdum then went to the back, to an armbar attempt, to his back then back to another armbar attempt. Werdum was unsuccessful though in his attempt to secure the tap, and Oleinik’s defensive prowess paid off in assisting him back to his feet.
Official Result: Aleksei Oleinik def. Fabricio Werdum by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)