CLEVELAND -- Fabricio Werdum secured that response win he so desperately wanted.
With memories of his heavyweight championship loss to Stipe Miocic at UFC 198 back in his home country of Brazil still fresh in his mind, Werdum outpointed Travis Browne, the sixth-ranked fighter in the top division, on the way to a unanimous-decision win at UFC 203 in Quicken Loans Arena Saturday night.
Browne has now lost two straight fights against the top two contending heavyweights in Werdum and Cain Velasquez, and three of his last four bouts in the last 16 months.
Despite being 0 for 5 on takedown attempts and getting put on his back once when Browne executed a leg sweep after catching a kick to the body, Werdum dominated the first round from the outset, landing a spinning kick in the opening seconds of the bout.
Werdum landed 70 of his 98 strikes, including 31 of his 55 significant shots, against Browne over the first five minutes of the fight. Conversely, Browne was on target with only four of his 19 strike attempts. Browne suffered an apparent injury to his right hand, and called for an illegal timeout.
The referee forced a break in the action after Browne disengaged.
Late in the first round, Werdum gained ground control and took Browne’s back. However, Browne tucked his chin close to his chest and blocked a rear-naked choke attempt. Werdum could not lock his right forearm under Browne’s chin, and rose to throw punches while shaking his head in the final seconds of the round.
Browne remained on his feet for the entirety of the second round, and despite absorbing 18 strikes from Werdum, he landed 13 of his 37 punch attempts. All 18 of Werdum’s strikes were considered significant.