The MMA world was thrown an unexpected curve ball on Tuesday evening when the news broke that UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez suffered an injury and had to pull out of UFC 180.
Quick to patch things up as best as they could, UFC announced a replacement main event for the Mexico City-based event, as they quickly announced Fabricio Werdum vs. Mark Hunt for the interim UFC Heavyweight Championship.
When the Brazilian submission specialist, who climbed his way back up the ladder after being released from the UFC in 2008, compiling a perfect 4-0 record inside the Octagon since returning to the UFC in 2012, earning himself the universally recognized number one ranking in the Heavyweight division, heard the news of Velasquez’s injury, needless to say he was less-than-pleased.
“I was relaxing here in Mexico with my team when I got a call from Dana White,” Werdum told the folks at MMA Fighting about the way in which he received the unfortunate news. “He said, ‘I have good and bad news for you, Fabricio. The good one is that you will still fight for the title on November 15th and the bad news is that Velasquez is out with a knee injury, and you will fight Mark Hunt instead.'”
Werdum continued, “I felt weird. My goal is the title, of course, but Cain Velasquez was a great challenge and is the current champion, but it happens.”
As far as his new opponent is concerned, Werdum made it clear that he’s someone who has been on his radar as well.
“I’ve watched Mark Hunt fight for a long time, since his K-1 days. He’s a nice guy. He tries to knock you out all the time. That’s his style. He doesn’t have a great ground game, but he’s good defensively,” Werdum explained. “I will have to change my strategy, but I will stay focused on winning that title on November 15th.”
Werdum elaborated, making it clear that he does not consider the heavy-handed slugger to be an easy task to overcome by any means.
“I know it’s not an easy fight. Mark Hunt has a huge knockout power, but I will do my best to avoid that. I envision this fight like my fight with Roy Nelson. I will do the right thing to win the title. He’s a heavy guy and has a great chin. I have to be careful. I can’t say he’s an easier opponent than Cain Velasquez. There’s no easy fight in the UFC. Anyone can beat you. Everybody knows Mark Hunt’s punching power. I think my only advantage in this fight is that I’m training for a long time for it.”
In somewhat of an odd twist, while November 15th wasn’t the expected date for such a fight, Werdum claims his coach — Rafael Cordeiro — told him that Hunt would be someone he would see standing across from him inside the Octagon in the near future.
“My master Rafael Cordeiro once told me: ‘Werdum, we’ll fight Velasquez and we will win. After that, you will rematch Velasquez in Las Vegas and then we will fight Mark Hunt.’ It changed a bit now [laughs],” said the current Ultimate Fighter: Latin America coach. “I’m a little sad, but I believe I will fight Velasquez next.”
When asked for his prediction on the outcome of UFC 180 now that his opponent has changed, Werdum went into specific detail as to how he sees this fight playing out.
“Maybe a submission,” Werdum said. “I will work hard to get him tired. Who knows, maybe I can surprise him standing. I know it’s not easy. My prediction is that I will win the title. I envision myself speaking to Joe Rogan, with my hands raised, thanking everyone who helped me get here.”
UFC 180: Werdum vs. Hunt takes place on Saturday, November 15, 2014 at Arena Mexico in Mexico City, Mexico, airing live on pay-per-view. Make sure to visit MMANews.com that evening for the best UFC 180 live results coverage on the web!
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