Former UFC heavyweight champions Junior Dos Santos and Fabricio Werdum are set to face off in bareknuckle MMA on September 8th. A rematch from 15 years ago when they faced off at UFC 90 but this time, the rules are a little different since it is MMA, without the gloves which could make a difference this time around.
The first time they met in 2008, Dos Santos secured a knockout in the first round. Both men are black belts in Brazilian jiu-jitsu so it seemed they decided to both step outside of their comfort zones and see who was more versed in striking. Whether or not that will be the case on Friday, fans will have to find out on Friday.
Werdum is a well-rounded fighter with a background in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and muay thai. He is known for his technical striking and his ability to finish fights with submissions. He last fought in the PFL’s 2022 season and seemed to contemplate retirement before deciding to try his hands at bareknuckle MMA.
Werdum said in Wednesday’s press conference, “No gloves will help my grip and with my grappling. I think it might be a little bit of an advantage for me. I’m very comfortable with no gloves.”
Mixed martial arts competitions generally happen with four-ounce gloves with the fighter’s hands taped up underneath. Both provide just enough protection to the hands but make it difficult to secure submissions and escape from them as well. That seems to be the only difference for Werdum.
“I think it’s only a small difference for me,” said Werdum. “To be bareknuckle, because MMA gloves are small. I train a lot of the time with no gloves in the gym anyway. I’m really excited to have this bareknuckle fight for the first time.”
Dos Santos is a powerful striker with knockout power in both hands. On top of his Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, he has trained in boxing and MMA with coach Luiz Dorea. Since he won the last fight, Dos Santos did not seem to be concerned with it being a bareknuckle match.
“My training camp does not change too much fighting bareknuckle,” said Dos Santos. “I’ve hit the pads and heavy bag as much as I could without gloves. The big difference is that there could be some more cuts on your face.”
Dos Santos has lost his last five MMA bouts, the last being a shoulder injury when he faced Yorgan De Castro at Eagle FC 47 in May of 2022. But that does not seem to be an issue for Dos Santos, for him, the matchup is still what it was at UFC 90.
Dos Santos added, “I don’t think of this as a rematch because so much is different today. The main thing hasn’t changed though, it’s still his grappling against my striking.”
Gamebred CEO Jorge Masvidal said the winner of this match will be in line to face the winner of Gamebred Bareknuckle MMA’s next main event, which will see heavyweight brawlers Alan Belcher and Roy “Big Country” Nelson in October.
Gamebred Bareknuckle MMA: Dos Santos vs. Werdum will air live and free on the Gamebred Youtube channel, on Friday night.
Edward holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Bachelor’s degree in Communications. Along with over 30 years of martial arts experience, he co-hosts The Coast-2-Coast Combat Hour podcast, and also writes for Spectation Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @Carbazel