It’s been a frustrating year for UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez.
The dominant titleholder ended his long-held rivalry with Junior dos Santos with a brutal fifth round TKO in the main event of UFC 166 in October, but it didn’t come without a price. Velasquez was forced to the sidelines with shoulder surgery, his second such procedure in the span of three years.
While he appeared on track to return at this Saturday night’s (Nov. 15, 2014) UFC 180 pay-per-view (PPV) event in his family’s home country of Mexico, a torn meniscus and sprained MCL forced him out of his main event bout with Fabricio Werdum and left him with a timetable to tentatively return around March 2015.
Fan favorite Mark Hunt stepped in to take his place at UFC 180, facing Werdum for the interim strap. But according to UFC president Dana White, who just addressed the situation on The Download, the winner of that fight could become the official champ if Velasquez is unable to fight by next March:
“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.”
White appears to be growing tired of Velasquez’ inability to fight. The champ’s injury history stems back to when he first won the belt from Brock Lesnar in October 2010, and has continued with unsettling certainty ever since.
He vowed to never rush back from injury like he did prior to the only loss of his MMA career, a 2011 knockout loss to Junior dos Santos at UF on FOX 1. But Velasquez is rarely if ever fully healthy, and like UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, injuries are cutting out a huge part of his prime fighting years.
The UFC has been ravaged by injuries in 2014, and having Velasquez on the sidelines the entire time has been a big part of that.
Now, however, the champ has some extra motivation to get back in the cage. Do you agree with the UFC’s course of action, or does Velasquez deserve to defend his belt when he is good and ready?