Orlando Predators make heavyweight friend


Frank Shala / Valencia Voice

Fabricio Werdum wore his Orlando Predators jersey to the UFC on FOX 11 weigh-ins last weekend.

As Ultimate FIghting Championship’s heavyweight No.1 contender Fabricio Werdum walked on stage for his UFC on FOX 11 weigh-in, he was adorned in not an Orlando Magic jersey nor a Solar Bears jersey, but none other than a jersey from the Orlando Predators.

For the first time, the City of Orlando was able to experience a UFC match when on April 19, the MMA heavyweight came to the Amway Center for UFC on FOX 11. It was at the weigh-ins for this fight where the national giant, UFC, crossed paths with the local Arena Football team, the Predators.

Quarterback Jason Boltus’ best friend, and groomsman in his wedding, is a higher-up in the marketing department for the UFC and wanted to bring the two sports together.

Boltus, Tanner Varner, Greg Carr, and head coach Rob Keefe all attended the weigh-ins on April 18 to show their support for the UFC coming to their team’s town. The players then presented personalized jerseys to former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar, and the two main event contenders, Werdum and Travis Browne.

“I’ve never seen a man get so pumped about a football jersey, Werdum was pumped, he said ‘This is mine? I’ll wear it right now,’” said Boltus about meeting the heavyweights. “That set me back cause sometimes as football players we kind of take for granted what we have. These guys wanna be us, and we wanna be them, you know, it was just surreal to see, it was awesome.”

With the event being televised nationally, the Predators were ecstatic to see Werdum don his new jersey onto the stage and point to his name on the back before stripping down for his weigh-in.

The organization is looking to return the team to the former glory it once was with new ideas to market the team in a whole new light. With attendance being unable to break 6,000 this season, the team is eager for ways to fill the seats.

“We’re trying to market this thing differently, I want this place to be packed out, I want people to know we are here. There are a lot of changes going on in the works, I am very excited about it.” said head coach Rob Keefe about working with the UFC. “That was something that was nationally televised and to get that kind of exposure is priceless, and that’s something that we’re going to do and continue to do.”

Hopefully the exposure pays off when and fans come out to the next home game on Saturday, April 26, at the CFE Arena where the Predators will take on division rivals the New Orleans Voodoo.