Former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum was thought to be one of the favorites among the PFL’s deep field of heavyweight MMA stars this season, and the 43-year-old Brazilian legend appeared to be on his way to showcasing that against Renan Ferreira in the main event of PFL 3 at Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Both Werdum and his 31-year-old opponent hurled themselves into each other with simultaneous sidekicks to start their fight on Thursday night, but Werdum ended up taking his 6-foot-8 opponent down to the mat at the end of that violent exchange.
There, Werdum’s Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills seemed to be winning him the match when his opponent tapped out after getting trapped in a vicious triangle.
“He tapped…I stopped because he tapped,” Werdum said during the post-fight interview on ESPN.
The problem? Referee Keith Peterson didn’t see Ferreira tap out. Once Werdum let loose of the hold a little bit, his opponent used the newfound oxygen available to his lungs, as well as his tremendously long reach, to smash Werdum into oblivion for the shocking stoppage victory.
You can see the tap for yourself below.
ESPN’s Ariel Helwani posted, “Oh man. That was definitely a tap. That’s a really bad miss by Peterson. Horrible turn of events for Werdum.”
Despite Ferreira signaling his submission, the fight wasn’t stopped. Instead, it continued and Ferreira parlayed the missed call into a stunning upset victory.
You can see the finish below. Ferreira might have been tapping out just moments before, but in the final moment of the fight he was dropping bombs on Werdum.
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Werdum: ‘The Fight Was Over’
Werdum was one of the PFL’s latest big signings. The ex-UFC heavyweight champ was thought to be on his way to Bellator MMA after he won his last fight in the UFC, but the MMA legend took the PFL route instead.
After the fight was over, Werdum admitted he let go of the hold because he felt his opponent tap. He said it’s what he’s trained to do for 23 years and he had no other choice but to stop squeezing the hold.
“In my mind, the fight was over because he tapped,” Werdum said.
You can watch Werdum’s post-fighter interview in its entirety below.
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Not Everyone Agrees With Werdum
But not everyone completely agreed with Werdum.
Calling the action live at cageside, both former UFC champion Randy Couture and former UFC welterweight contender Kenny Florian concluded after the interview that the ultimate fault for the loss belongs with Werdum.
Speaking to their PFL cohort Sean O’Connell on the ESPN telecast, both MMA stars said they believe all fighters should always continue to fight 100% no matter what happens until the referee stops the action.
Werdum didn’t do that, and he paid dearly for it. He’s now 0-1 in the PFL and in danger of missing the 2021 playoffs entirely unless the decision is somehow reversed by the local athletic commission.
According to ESPN’s Marc Raimondi, Werdum is appealing the result.
But the Brazilian will have to sit at the bottom of the PFL’s standings until he finds out their decision.
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