Before Stipe Miocic could defend his UFC heavyweight title against Alistair Overem in the UFC 203 main event, former champion Fabricio Werdum, who lost his belt to Miocic in May, had to take on Travis Browne in the night’s co-main event at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.
Werdum and Browne had fought in April 2014, with the Brazilian winning a wide unanimous decision. Browne, stepping in for the injured Ben Rothwell on short notice, was looking for a different outcome in his 2nd showdown with Werdum.
Werdum threw a flying kick to the face straight off the bat. Good right hand by Werdum after a failed takedown. Body kick by Werdum. Rolling thunder by Werdum (I think). It was definitely a wild kick and Werdum threw it. Browne complained about something, Werdum hit Browne with a left hook afterward, then the fight was halted. Apparently it was something wrong with Browne’s hand and the doctor came in to take a look. The fight resumed under bizarre circumstances. Big left hook and a right hand hurt Browne. Werdum spun for the back and then had Browne clinched up and pinned against the fence. Short punches on the inside by Werdum and they separated. Body shot by Browne caught Fabricio’s attention. Spinning back kick by Werdum to the body. Right hand by Browne partially got through. Kick by Werdum was caught and Browne tripped the other leg and Werdum got back to his feet. Massive right hand by Browne dropped Browne. Werdum with ground-and-pound and then full back mount with both hooks in. Rear-naked choke attempt by Werdum didn’t happen and Browne survived.
Left hand by Browne to start the 2nd round. Spinning kick by Werdum and he falls to the ground and Browne doesn’t follow him to the ground. The fight resumed as the crowd booed. Good leg kick by Werdum. Kick to the midsection by Werdum. Browne’s problems with his right hand were evident. Two kicks by Browne blocked. Right hand and a body kick by Werdum. The Brazilian pushed forward with an uppercut. Good left hook by Browne while backing up. Nifty body shot by Browne. Jab by Werdum with 50 seconds left in the 2nd. A leg kick by Browne across Werdum’s shin. Rolling heel kick and a spinning kick by Werdum in this truly weird bout.
Body kick by Werdum and a right to the top of the head by the former champion early in the 3rd. Browne barely threw anything despite objectively being behind on the scorecards. When he did land it wasn’t anything substantive. Werdum’s output had waned considerably, but he still was able to drill Browne with a leg kick and then a knee. Browne with a hard knee and a kick which Werdum shrugged off. Good right by Browne with 1:20 to go. Solid right by Werdum. Browne and Werdum traded jabs. Browne with kicks and knees but no finish. End of the fight, and not a moment too soon.
A post-fight brawl nearly happened, as Browne’s coach Edmond Tarverdyan exchanged words with Werdum, who kicked him in the chest. The camps were separated and escorted out of the cage.