Reigning UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez (pictured) has suffered a knee injury that will force him out of his November 15 title defense against Fabricio Werdum.
As a result, UFC officials reported Werdum will now battle Mark Hunt for the interim heavyweight belt at UFC 180.
“I’m so unbelievably disappointed that this happened,” Velasquez said. “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.”
No word on the extend of Velasquez’s knee injury or if he will require surgery. Velasquez underwent surgery on his left shoulder in December and hasn’t been seen since.
Werdum solidified his top contender status by posting a lopsided unanimous decision over Travis Browne earlier in April. The upset specialist has won all four of his scraps since returning to the UFC in February 2012.
“I’m ready for whatever comes. 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,” said Werdum.
Hunt, meanwhile, is fresh off last month’s walk-off knockout of Roy Nelson in Japan. The veteran owns just a 10-8-1 professional record, but is currently ranked fourth in the UFC heavyweight division.
“I feel blessed to have this opportunity to fight for another world title,” Hunt stated. “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.”
Arena Ciudad de Mexico in Mexico City, Mexico will serve as host.
Here is the show’s revised agenda:
Augusto Montano vs. TBD
Jessica Eye vs. Leslie Smith
(Pay-Per-View 10PM ET/7PM PT)
Ricardo Lamas vs. Dennis Bermudez
Diego Sanchez vs. Joe Lauzon
Jake Ellenberger vs. Kelvin Gastelum
Fabricio Werdum vs. Mark Hunt (for UFC heavyweight interim title)