The injury bug has claimed yet another UFC champion.

On Tuesday night, the UFC revealed a knee injured suffered in training camp has forced their heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez out his highly anticipated title fight with Fabricio Werdum at UFC 180 on Nov. 18 in Mexico. Gabriel Morency of Sports Rage TV was the first to report the news.

“I’m so unbelievably disappointed that this happened,” Velasquez told UFC.com. “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.”

As a result of the injury to his original opponent, Werdum will now face knockout artist Mark Hunt for the interim UFC heavyweight title in the main event of the Mexico City card.

“I’m ready for whatever comes,” said Werdum. “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,”

Werdum (18-5-1), a submission specialist, earned his shot at the champion with a 25-minute beat down of Travis Browne in the main event of UFC on FOX 11 in April. This gave the Brazilian submission specialist victories in seven of his last eight bouts, including four in a row under the UFC banner. He will enter this bout with 13 career stoppage victories, including nine by way of submission, and a UFC record of 6-2.

His opponent, Hunt (10-8-1), the 2001 K-1 World Grand Prix Champion, is coming off an impressive second round knockout victory over Roy Nelson in the main event of UFC Fight Night 52 in September. Prior to this win, fans saw ‘The Super Samoan’ fight to a draw in what has been labeled one of the great heavyweight fights in UFC history against Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva at UFC Fight Night 33 in December 2013. He will enter this bout with seven career knockout victories and a UFC record of 5-2-1.

“I feel blessed to have this opportunity to fight for another world title. This is something that doesn’t happen often to people,” stated Hunt. “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,”

UFC 181 is currently scheduled to be held on November 15 at the Arena Ciudad de México. The prelims for the card will feature the finale of  The Ultimate Fighter Latin America featherweight and bantamweight tournaments.

Here’s how the rest of the card is shaping up:

  • Fabricio Werdum (18-5-1) vs. Mark Hunt (10-8-1) – For interim UFC heavyweight championship
  • Kelvin Gastelum (9-0) vs. Jake Ellenberger (29-8)
  • Diego Sanchez (25-7) vs. Joe Lauzon (24-9)
  • Ricardo Lamas (14-3) vs. Dennis Bermudez (14-3)
  • Jessica Eye (10-2 )vs. Leslie Smith (7-5-1)
  • Edgar Garcia (14-3) vs. Hector Urbina (16-8-1)
  • Augusto Montano (13-1) vs. Chris Heatherly (8-2)
  • TBA vs. TBA – TUF: Latin America Featherweight finale
  • TBA vs. TBA – TUF: Latin America Bantamweight finale

About The Author

News Manager

José began his career as a mixed martial arts journalist while still enrolled at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University. Since graduating in May 2013, he has attended dozens of high profile UFC fight cards as a credentialed member of the media, providing live cage side coverage through his articles and videos. His work has appeared on UFC.com, ArizonaSports.com and AZCentral. He is also currently one of the main contributors on Power MMA Show at Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, one of the first all MMA radio shows on a major radio station.