Fabricio Werdum pulled off one of the biggest upsets in MMA history in beating Fedor Emelianenko with a perfect triangle choke. Fedor tapped after the choke was on tight for quite some time.
Emelianenko knocked Werdum to the matt quickly with a number of shots, but Werdum wasn't hurt and stayed alert while Fedor tried to ground and pound with frankly sloppy punches. As Fedor tried to finish the fight quickly, Werdum got his legs in position and Fedor made a very basic mistake against a BJJ practitioner. He was too focused on his offense and ignored defense completely, as he said in the post-fight interview. Fedor's noted sloppiness finally did him in, as he made a mistake that plagues many beginning MMA fighters—getting caught in the triangle.
The fight was reminiscent of long-ago MMA matchups when jiu-jitsu competitors took fighters of other styles by surprise—in particular, the UFC 4 bout where Royce Gracie beat Dan Severn with the same triangle choke (which some call a triangle armbar because in this case the arm position is crucial, though the key feature is compression of the neck, thus making the term choke more descriptive). That fight lasted a lot longer, well over 10 minutes, in contrast to this rather quick bout.
The Werdum win throws off Strikeforce's plans for an Emelianenko-Overeem matchup for the title. Werdum says he'd like to rematch Fedor instead of fight for the title. The loss is only Fedor's 2nd, and is really the first time he has clearly been bested. The first time he lost was due to a cut, against Tsuyosha Kohsaka. Fedor's record falls to 32-2, while Werdum's is now 14-4-1.
Did Fedor look past Werdum to Overeem and the Strikeforce title? Perhaps Werdum's rather pedestrian record of accomplishments wasn't sufficient to make Fedor believe Werdum posed a threat. He may have been focused on avenging his brother Aleksander's loss to Werdum, as evidenced by his seeming desire to end the fight quickly and with punches. Some will say that Fedor has slipped and his days of dominance are over.
Another possibility, however, is that Werdum trained well and truly has announced his emergence as one of the great heavyweights in MMA today.
Fluke, or not? That is what MMA fans will be debating in the aftermath of the upset.