Prior to the anticipation of UFC 180 in Mexico, headlined by Mexican MMA fans beloved hero, Cain Velasquez, news broke that the California native had sprained his medial collateral ligament and tore his meniscus as reported by Bleacher Report, only 3 weeks out to his third title defense. This left the UFC with another one of their panic situations, similar to the predicament with UFC 177 Tj Dillashaw v Renan Barao II or Daniel Cormier v Rashad Evans in UFC 170. Velasquez’ last fight was last October in the Heavyweight trilogy against Junior Dos Santos, where Cain engraved his fist once again all over Dos Santos, proving his belt claim was by no means lucky or a fluke, but surely a worthy trophy of his.
Luckily the UFC is the MMA’s largest and most coveted promotion for myriad fighting which means that many fighters, even on such short notice will gladly cease opportunity. In the wake of disappointing Mexican fans and a sorry Fabrico Werdum, Mark Hunt, the veteran kickboxer with extremely heavy hands stepped up to the plate on 3 weeks notice. Prior to the fight, which many are calling for as a “Cinderella Story” the New Zealander hadn’t fought for 6 weeks, making the urgency for conditioning at an all time high. His last fight, many would remember, was his brutal knock out of “Big Country” Roy Nelson in Japan. It included his somewhat humorous but apathetic walk away from the knockout scene, as he casually enveloped himself in his win.
Although the problem had been solved, Dana White recently came out and added to the drama claiming that Velasquez will lose his belt if he is not fit to fight by March of 2015. It seems that Velasquez, considered as the baddest man on the planet, may be a victim of the baddest promoter on the planet, if his fitness, something which is somewhat out of his control is not under wraps by the deadline.
As reported by Bleacher Report, on an episode of “The Download” on UFC.com, Dana quoted his plans for the future of the heavyweight class.
“”We’re headed in that direction now. This next fight in Mexico is for the interim title. So if Cain couldn’t compete again, the winner of this fight would be seen as the champion.”
And so the question remains, is this fair? It is understandable of a business, and the UFC being one of the biggest, having to take action against those who cannot adhere to responsibilities–but is an injury really the fault of the fighter? Perhaps if the injury comes from foul play, as that is simply the stupidity of the fighter. And I may not understand the fine print in the pawns of the UFC’s contracts, but I do have sympathy for Velasquez. The Heavyweight has been out of commission to over a year now and not at his own leisure. I’m sure half of the heartbreak came in the form of being unfit to make the grand appearance he was hoping to make against Werdum in his family land. Velasquez had earned the belt on his own escapade, going through the saga with Junior Dos Santos in losing and winning it back and now he must contemplate parting ways with it, because of something he certainly cannot control?
In this idea, maybe Cain will realize how irrelevant loosing the belt is. He is well aware of the trials he had to perform to attain it, so in loosing it for the sake of impatience on the part of the UFC, is not as meaningful as becoming the interm champion and having it by default. This is not to undermine the bout which should stun fans on Saturday November 15th against Werdum and Hunt, as Hunt especially will writ his own wonder story after so many years in the sport. But it is to say that if the Champions knows he is the true Champion, he will easily find his way back. This is what will mark a truly epic story in MMA and in Velasquez’s decorated career.
Only time will tell.