ORLANDO – The UFC’s maiden voyage to Mexico hinges around the health of Mexican-American heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, who had surgery to repair a torn labrum in December. Right now the tentative date to bring the Octagon south of the border is November, according to UFC president Dana White.
The specifics as to when and where (exactly) are still up in the air, but the certainties seem to be that the winner of Saturday night’s UFC on FOX 11 main event between Travis Browne and Fabricio Werdum will be the interloper on that Mexican card…and there’ll only be a Mexican card if Velasquez is on it.
At Thursday’s post media conference scrum at basketball star Shaquille O’Neal’s estate, White said as far as he knows Velasquez is healing up on schedule.
"I haven’t heard anything negative so it’s got to be good," he said.
If not, White said the card they are working on would simply move to the United States. Pressed for more information on the still-developing event, in particular what city, White coyly stated that he’d probably already said more than he should have.
"No more Mexico questions, I’ve probably already said too much," he laughed. "My phone was ringing during the thing too, probably the guys who run Mexico for us telling me to shut my face."
Earlier in the "thing" -- the press conference -- White made it clear that the idea was for the Browne/Werdum winner to get Velasquez in Mexico, and that the they were encouraged by the big numbers the country did viewership-wise for UFC 171, which peaked at 4.3 million viewers. The idea of bringing a UFC card to Mexico has long been talked about, but with a distribution partner in Televisa broadcasting throughout Latin America and an Ultimate Fighter Latin America season already in the works, November would be a prime time to showcase Velasquez there.
Though he wouldn’t dish out too many details, White didn’t hide his mirth at the thought of breaking new ground there.
"[Televisa] is engaged, they are excited, and [Mexico]’s going to be our new Brazil," he said.