The immediate rematch between Cain Velasquez and heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum (pictured) is no more. On Sunday, minutes after watching his New England Patriots lose to the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship, UFC president Dana White announced a back injury has forced Velasquez out of the February 6 scrap.
Stipe Miocic has agreed to take the bout on just 13 days’ notice.
Miocic was promised the winner of Werdum vs. Velasquez II after putting Andrei Arlovski to sleep in just 54 seconds earlier this month at UFC 195. There was no way Miocic could pass on the opportunity, especially since he’s been chirping for a title tile all the livelong day, but two fights in 30 days and short notice might be too much to overcome.
The 33-year-old has rattled off wins in five of his past six outings. The lone defeat during his current run came three fights ago in a highly controversial decision loss to former champ Junior dos Santos.
Werdum, meanwhile, has quietly entered the conversation as best heavyweight in MMA history given his track record. With quality wins over Gabriel Gonzaga (2), Alistair Overeem, Brandon Vera, Antonio Silva, Fedor Emelianenko, Roy Nelson, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Travis Browne, Mark Hunt and Velasquez, who were all relatively in their primes, it can be argued that no heavyweight has a better resume.
Countless injuries have zapped the prime years of Velasquez’s career. The 33-year-old has only fought six times since initially capturing the title in October 2010.
No word on how long Velasquez will be forced to ride the pine with his latest wound.
MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada hosts the festivities.
Here is the show’s updated roster:
(UFC Fight Pass 6PM ET/3PM PT)
Noad Lahat vs. Diego Rivas
Ray Borg vs. Justin Scoggins
Artem Lobov vs. Alex White
Mickey Gall vs. Mike Jackson
(Fox Sports 1 8PM ET/5PM PT)
Misha Cirkunov vs. Alex Nicholson
Mike Pyle vs. Sean Spencer
Damian Grabowski vs. Derrick Lewis
Josh Burkman vs. K.J. Noons
(Pay-Per-View 10PM ET/7PM PT)
Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante vs. Ovince St. Preux
Joseph Benavidez vs. Zach Makovsky
Roy Nelson vs. Jared Rosholt
Johny Hendricks vs Stephen Thompson
Stipe Miocic vs. Fabricio Werdum (UFC heavyweight champion)