Comments Dana White recently made were widely seen as confirmation that the UFC would strip Cain Velasquez of the heavyweight belt, if he’s not ready to go in early 2015, but the promotion’s president says that isn’t exactly the case.
In an interview with UFC.com last week, White confirmed that the interim title fight at UFC 180, was a step the promotion was taking in case Velasquez was sidelined again. The heavyweight champion is expected to return from his knee injury in March, 2015, and since White said Velasquez would be stripped if he can’t “compete again”, many interpreted it as him confirming March, 2015 as a deadline.
Following Fabricio Werdum’s stoppage win over Mark Hunt at UFC 180, which left Werdum with the interim belt, White told FOX Sports 2 (comment via FOX Sports 2 press release):
“That’s not what I said. I said if we ended up in a situation where he got severely injured again where he can’t fight for several more months, then we’d strip him.”
The clarification will likely make Velasquez fans happy, as although the champ hasn’t fought since last October, it would have been somewhat surprising to see the UFC set such a firm deadline. Dominick Cruz was sidelined for a longer period before he was stripped of the bantamweight title.
Velasquez took out Junior dos Santos in the fourth round last October, and before that, he put away “Bigfoot” Silva in the first round at UFC 160 in May.
So, hopefully Velasquez’s recovery remains on track, and he’ll throw down with Werdum sometime in early 2015.