A few minutes before Sunday’s National Football Conference title game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Carolina Panthers kicked off, a devastating blow took place that will at a minimum, have lingering effects for months down the line.
In what has unfortunately become common place for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, company president Dana White announced via Twitter that former heavyweight champion and current number one contender Cain Velasquez is out of his upcoming title fight with champion Fabricio Werdum at UFC 196, which was arguably the most anticipated rematch of the year.
After suffering an embarrassing, submission loss to Werdum seven months ago at UFC 188, the former champion was on a serious road to redemption, designed by his fight camp, American Kickboxing Academy. The mission, equipping Velasquez with everything needed to secure a third title for AKA in less than a calendar year; joining Daniel Cormier (Light Heavyweight champion via UFC 187 Decision over Anthony Johnson) and Luke Rockhold (Middleweight Champion via UFC 194 TKO over Chris Weidman) among the camp’s championship combatants. Suffering a back injury while training has once again derailed the former champion’s plans and altered another UFC main event, just under two weeks before UFC -96 goes live.
One thing that is universal knowledge when it comes to Velasquez is he knows how to bounce back from adversity. Whether it’s defeat or injury, Velasquez has a knack for proving he is the best pure heavyweight UFC has on its roster and of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, despite his most recent loss to Werdum, which many believe Mexico’s altitude played a role in.
What Velasquez has yet to master is the ability to overcome injury. Having only fought three times in the last three years, as a result of significant injuries (including a torn mope issues and sprained MCL), the bigger questions are what causes these unfortunate incidents to continuously find residence with Velasquez and what, if anything can be done to prevent them. Is there something to Dana White’s claim that AKA goes too hard in its sparring/training? Is the camp’s medical staff not offering sufficient methods to prevent these habitual occurrences? Or, is there something within Velasquez, i.e. brittle bones and ligaments, that require elevated medical attention?
Whatever the issue is, preventative measures must be implemented if Velasquez wants to live out a lengthy title run. If not, does “Brown Pride” consider retirement?
Until that eventual bridge is reached for crossing, what’s known is a replacement has been plugged into face Werdum for the heavyweight title on the eve of Super Bowl 50. Cleveland, Ohioan Stipe Miotic, looks to bring his city something it hasn’t seen since 1964, a championship. Can he?
Continue following Take No Prisoners Sports, as we will provide you with updates in reference to Cain Velasquez’s recovery, return to action, a preview and recap of UFC 196’s new main event.
Written by Antoine Hoffman