After a gap of over four years, Junior dos Santos has returned to the winner’s circle.
On Friday night, fight fans were treated to a rematch 15 years in the making when former UFC heavyweight champions Junior dos Santos and Fabricio Werdum stepped into the cage at Gamebred Bareknuckle 5.
The two heavyweight icons first squared off at UFC 90 as JDS made his promotional debut against an established Fabricio Werdum. As a result, ‘Cigano’ entered the bout as a significant underdog, but it only took him 80 seconds to flip the script, scoring the Upset of the Year with a stunning highlight-reel knockout against the submission specialist. A decade and a half later, Werdum was determined to even the series in a bare knuckle mixed martial arts matchup.
Both men come out sizing up one another for the first 30 seconds. Werdum goes high with a kick and JDS responds with a calf kick that briefly takes Werdum off his feet. Werdum throws an axe kick followed by a takedown attempt that JDS easily defends against. Junior Dos Santos responds with another calf kick. Werdum moves in with a left that misses the mark. JDS throws a jab, and Werdum lands a calf kick in response. Dos Santos throws a 1-2 that partially lands.
A high kick from Werdum misses and JDS once again attacks the lead leg of his opponent. Dos Santos slows and walks down Werdum, throwing a jab. As Dos Santos continues to move in, Werdum shoots for a single leg and gets JDS on the mat. Dos Santos bounces back up and both men clinch against the cage before separating.
After the break, JDS lands a big left hand that knocks down Werdum and busts him open above his right eye. Werdum shoots panic shoots and scores a takedown just as the round comes to a close.
Werdum comes out and immediately attempts to pressure JDS, throwing a combination followed by a head kick that sends Dos Santos running for cover. Another high kick from Werdum is fended off easily. JDS responds once again with a stiff calf kick. Jab from Dos Santos. Werdum responds with a heavy kick to the quad of JDS. Werdum once again attempts to shoot, but ‘Cigano’ sees it coming from a mile away. Straight right from JDS misses and Werdum attempts to land a spinning heel kick, but JDS gets out of the way of danger just in time.
Werdum lets a high kick fly followed by a straight kick to the body. JDS throws a calf kick that lands. A left hand from Werdum lands, backing JDS up to the cage. Werdum shoots in and drags Dos Santos to the mat, but JDS is able to reverse the position and get back to his feet. JDS attacks the legs of a downed Werdum until the bell sounds to close out the second round.
A flicking jab from JDS lands to kickstart the third and final round. A calf kick from Dos Santos lands as Werdum continues to stalk from the center of the cage. Werdum throws a body kick that JDS catches and tosses aside. A solid jab from Werdum lands. Werdum attempts to follow up, but JDS circles around the cage to stay out of reach. Werdum shoots in for a takedown near the cage wall, but JDS defends and circles out.
Back in the center, JDS throws a calf kick and Werdum attempts to respond with a flurry of strikes. Another calf kick from Dos Santos back up Werdum. JDS is playing target practice with Werdum’s left eye and it looks as though Werdum’s eyelid is partially detached and bleeding profusely.
With 10 seconds to go, Dos Santos throws a spinning heel kick to the body that is just out of range. Werdum offers nothing in response as the final bell sounds.
Official Result: Junior dos Santos def. Fabricio Werdum via split decision (28-29, 30-27, 30-27)
Check Out Highlights From Junior dos Santos vs. Fabricio Werdum at Gamebred Bareknuckle 5 Below:
— Le •| (@azzlecc) September 9, 2023
— FutbooBR 🇧🇷 (@FutbooBR) September 9, 2023
— Jay (@Jaymaraaraujo) September 9, 2023
— Red Corner MMA (@RedCorner_MMA) September 9, 2023
Junior Dos Santos 🇧🇷 defeats Fabricio Werdum via split decision in the rematch going 2-0!
— Combat Sports Today 📰 (@CSTodayNews) September 9, 2023
— InsideFighting (@InsideFighting_) September 9, 2023