MMA Odds and Ends for Wednesday: Velasquez Out, Werdum vs. Hunt Now Headlines UFC 180

Cain Velasquez 2 Once again, a UFC champion is injured and out of their title fight. This time it’s UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, who injured his knee in training. Velasquez was forced to pull out of his scheduled UFC 180 main event title defence against top contender Fabricio Werdum, and now Werdum will take on Mark Hunt for the interim heavyweight strap. The original scoop for the big switchup came from Canadian media personality Gabriel Morency, and it was later confirmed by UFC officials. UFC 180 takes place Nov. 15 at Arena Ciudad de México in Mexico City, Mexico, meaning Hunt will have just under three weeks in order to train and get ready for his first UFC championship fight. And as far as the interim title part of this goes, I’m totally fine with it considering Velasquez has already been out for a year. To me, it was absolutely a no-brainer for the UFC to create an interim tag instead of stripping Velasquez from the belt he worked so hard to earn. Getting back to Velasquez, the injury to the champ is devastating not only to the fans who were looking forward to seeing one of the top pound-for-pound fighters on Earth compete once again, but it’s also especially awful for Velasquez and the UFC, as the promotion waited years to hold its first event with Mexico with Velasquez in the headlining role. The UFC had Velasquez opposite Werdum on TUF Latin America and the fight between those was going to be huge in Mexico, and now that Velasquez won’t be competing, the event is sure to take a hit, although Werdum vs. Hunt is a solid replacement fight regardless. As far as the fight between Werdum and Hunt goes, it should be a very good heavyweight fight and it’s a solid replacement bout. Werdum is currently riding a four-fight win streak with wins over Travis Browne, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Roy Nelson, and Mike Russow, while Hunt recently got back into the win column with a brutal knockout win over Nelson. Looking at Hunt’s record, it might seem pretty crazy that a fighter with a 10-8-1 record is fighting for the UFC heavyweight championship, but remember a) the heavyweight division is already shallow and the UFC needed a last-minute replacement badly, and b) Hunt is a popular fighter who should be able to sell a decent amount of PPVs. It’s not ideal, but it’s acceptable. As far as the betting line goes, keep your eyes peeled to over the next few days for the official line that will be released, but regardless, expect Werdum to open as a decent-sized favorite here as he is a superior overall mixed martial artist to Hunt and also had a full training camp to prepare for the altitude of Mexico City. That being said, Hunt is always a knockout threat so he can’t be counted out completely, but for a fighter with already-questionable conditioning, the fact he is fighting a five-round fight on such short notice is definitely a disadvantage. Final word: It’s too bad Velasquez is so injury prone, because without all the injuries he had a chance to be one of the greatest ever. But, based on how the last few years have gone for the champ, we’ll likely never know.

Written by Adam Martin.

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