It’s common in the UFC to see one fighter pull out from an event months, weeks and even days before the scheduled bout. However, it is rare to see both fighters of an upcoming main event bout to be remove themselves from the fight card one after the other because of injury. That would be tantamount to disaster.
That rarity has become a reality for the UFC as Heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum has pulled out of the UFC 196 main event barely 24 hours after his challenger and former champion Cain Velasquez begged off from their rematch due to a back injury. Said Werdum via Brazilian media:
“I decided not to fight because I’m not 100 percent. If Cain was the opponent, I would go on. It’s not his fault, it’s nobody’s fault. Injuries happen. You can’t avoid them. I have no option. I made this decision because I’m not feeling 100 percent.”
So what was wrong with Werdum? The champ adds:
“I was already injured. I have a foot injury, and haven’t been able to throw kicks in training for two weeks. I would still fight Cain because I was injured the last time, but I also hurt my back last Friday. I went to the doctor, tried to continue training, but couldn’t spar as I should spar.”
Let’s call it “back to back” because it’s been one back injury after another . But it’s not simple as giving it a name.
With both fighters out, UFC 196 was left with no main event bout. Stipe Miocic, who was promoted to title challenger after Velasquez pulled out of the bout, has been pulled out of it too. It’s unclear when or who he will fight next and if it will be for the title:
What was clear though was the fact that the UFC was in a tough position as the other champions are indisposed of right now. Daniel Cormier, Luke Rockhold and Robbie Lawler may not make weight in time while Dominic Cruz had just beaten T.J. Dillashaw a couple of weeks ago. On the other hand,Holly Holm and Conor McGregor are already booked for UFC 197. UFC 196’s co-main event is Johny Hendricks vs. Stephen Thompson:
But while that match-up looks formidable on paper, it doesn’t have the star power of a PPV main event bout, especially one that’s to be held on Super Bowl Weekend.
In previous instances where the UFC cards were crippled, guys like Benson Henderson and Donald Cerrone saved the events by taking fights on short notice. In the case of UFC 196, at least two fighters sent feelers.
Go to the next page to see who offered to save UFC 196: