A knee injury has forced UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez out of a planned November title defense vs. Fabricio Werdum at UFC 180.
In place of Velasquez-Werdum, officials have tabbed Mark Hunt vs. Werdum for the interim heavyweight title.
Velasquez suffered a right knee injury in training and will not be able to headline the first UFC card to take place in Mexico. The event goes down November 15 from Mexico City.
“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.”
Werdum is coming off a win over Travis Browne that kept him in his role of No. 1 contender that he secured with a victory last year over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
“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,” Werdum said. “I’ll continue to prepare and will arrive ready to fight on behalf of all my Latin American fans.”
Hunt returns to the Octagon after knocking out Roy Nelson in Japan over the summer. He was near the top of the pecking order before a loss to Junior dos Santos.
“I feel blessed to have this opportunity to fight for another world title. 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?” Hunt said. “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.”