UFC 196 will go on without its featured attractions, Cain Velasquez and Fabricio Werdum.
ESPN reported Monday that Werdum told MMAFighting.com he won’t fight Stipe Miocic at UFC 196 because he’s battling foot and back injuries. Werdum’s announcement comes less a day after his original opponent, Cain Velasquez, withdrew from the fight due to a back injury.
UFC arranged Miocic as Werdum’s new opponent, but the defending heavyweight champion decided against fighting through the pain this time.
“I was already injured,” Werdum told MMAFighting.com, according to ESPN. “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.
“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.”
Werdum defeated Velasquez in 2015 at UFC 188 by submission in the third round. He was set to defend his heavyweight title for the first time at UFC 196.
Werdum reportedly expressed his willingness to fight either Velasquez or Miocic in two or three months.
UFC did not respond to a request to comment on Werdum’s announcement when contacted by ESPN’s Brett Okamoto.
The welterweight fight between Johny Hendricks and Stephen Thompson will stand as the main event on Feb. 6 at UFC 196 in Las Vegas.
The show must go on.
Thumbnail photo via Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports