22 Oct Cain Velasquez Blows Up Knee, Out of UFC 180; Hunt, Werdum to Fight For Interim Belt
To say 2014 is an accursed year for UFC champions is a huge understatement.
In what was originally branded as his homecoming of sorts, heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez is rendered unable to defend his title against Fabricio Werdum at UFC 180 in Mexico City. The Mexican-American Velasquez had succumbed to a knee injury once again which might delay his return for another six months or so.
The story was first reported by Yahoo Sports’ Kevin Iole. The ZUFFA management released an official statement afterwards.
Mark Hunt will take Velasquez’ place in the modified main event, this time battling Werdum for the interim title on November 15 at the Mexico City Arena.
“I’m so unbelievably disappointed that this happened,” the California-born Velasquez said in a statement released by the UFC. “To say I was looking forward to fighting in Mexico for the first time is an understatement. I wanted to fight on that card so bad. Looks like it wasn’t meant to be and it’s not going to happen.
“I’m going to get my [right] knee fixed and get back to training as soon as I can. I’m sorry to the fans in Mexico who were expecting this fight, and I hope to be able to come down and still be a part of this historic event.”
Iole’s story was vague on the seriousness of the injury but information has since leaked that Velasquez tore the meniscus in his right knee. It can be remembered that CV’s knee woes goes back prior to the TKO loss he suffered against nemesis Junior Dos Santos. The former Arizona State U Sun Devil has been on the shelf since the bloody rubber match with JDS a year ago at UFC 166.
But while Velasquez was having a hard time steering good fortune his way, to say the least, the “Super Samoan” has no such trouble.
The 40-year-old Hunt, a former kickboxing champion, staked his claim for a title shot with four consecutive wins but got knocked out in the process by dos Santos. However, the Auckland native continued to do his thing, slugging it out with Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva in a Fight of the Year candidate in Australia and then becoming the first person to knock Roy “Big Country” Nelson out in the Octagon.
“I feel blessed to have this opportunity to fight for another world title,” Hunt said. “This is something that doesn’t happen often to people. First K1 and now UFC. How can I say no, even though it’s on short notice? I’m dropping everything and flying to Mexico tomorrow so I can best prepare myself for this fight. I have to get into shape and acclimatize to that environment, which is really important. There’s nothing to lose when you’re competing against the best at the top level.”
The top contender Werdum, meanwhile, expressed willingness to face on all comers at the wake of Velaquez’ mishap.
“I’m ready for whatever comes,” said Werdum, who is currently in a four-fight win streak, said. “I have been training in Mexico for nearly two months and accept the challenge that is presented to me. I’ll continue to prepare and will arrive ready to fight on behalf of all my Latin American fans.”
Out of the 10 current champions, Velasquez and lightweight Anthony Pettis have not seen action at all this year, while Jon Jones, Johny Hendricks, Jose Aldo, and Chris Weidman have fought only once.
Perhaps 2015 could be a luckier year, health-wise. Or perhaps not.
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