Cain Velasquez to Return at UFC 188
UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez will make his Octagon return at UFC 188 on June 13th in Mexico City.
Undisputed Heavyweight King
Velasquez will finally face Fabricio Werdum for the right to be called the undisputed UFC heavyweight champion. Velasquez was slated to defend his title against Werdum at the main event of UFC 180 last November of 2014 but the champion was forced to withdraw because of a torn meniscus in his right knee which needed surgery. Instead of postponing the heavyweight title bout, the UFC changed the main event to an interim title bout with Samoan Mark Hunt taking over Velasquez’s spot. Werdum went on to win the interim belt by knocking out Hunt with a flying knee in round two. Coincidentally, UFC 180 was also held in Mexico City Arena.
Almost Two Years Gone
It’s been almost two years since Velasquez last fought inside the Octagon. He was last seen knocking out nemesis Junior Dos Santos at UFC 166 in October of 2013. Velasquez suffered a torn labrum during that fight and had surgery in early 2014. He and Werdum were given coaching positions at the inaugural edition of The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America with the understanding that they would face each other at the finale as with the tradition of all other Ultimate Fighter contests.
A Career Resurrected
The 37-year old Werdum has seen his career resurrected after always failing to deliver in big fights in the past. Werdum’s losses to Andrei Arlovski, Junior Dos Santos and Alistair Overeem from 2007 to 2011 prevented him from getting to the next level and fighting for the title. After his loss to Overeem, the former PRIDE and Strikeforce competitor racked up three impressive wins over “Big Country” Roy Nelson, Mike Russow and Antonio “Minotauro” Noguiera to set up a title eliminator bout against the rising star Travis “Hapa” Browne last April 2014. Werdum dominated the powerful American contender for five straight rounds to earn a shot at Cain Velasquez’s gold.
Who Takes This?
Werdum’s rise to the top of the heavyweight division has been attributed to his vastly improved striking game. A former two time Jiu Jistu world champion and the best submission artist in the heavyweight division, Werdum’s Achilles heel has always been his stand-up game. But since working with Rafael Cordeiro four fights ago, Werdum has evolved into a complete fighter and a dangerous striker. His size, mobility, power and finesse makes him a difficult read for most opponents.
However, fighting Cain Velasquez is fighting an animal like no other. Cain’s cardio as an athlete is unparalleled. His aggression and brute strength have been enough to overwhelm the best of the best. He’s knocked out the likes of Brock Lesnar, Antonio Silva (two times) and Junior Dos Santos. However, the long lay-off and various injuries are the question mark for Cain Velasquez coming to this fight.
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