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Fabricio Werdum: Mark Hunt is not easier than Cain Velasquez

Wander Roberto, Inovafoto

Fabricio Werdum will fight for the UFC gold on Nov. 15, but UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez won’t be the other man inside the Octagon in Mexico City.

The UFC announced on Tuesday that Velasquez is out of UFC 180 with a right knee injury, and knockout artist Mark Hunt will step in to face Werdum for an interim title.

"I was relaxing here in Mexico with my team when I got a call from Dana White," Werdum told "He said ‘I have good and bad news for you, Fabricio. The good one is that you will still fight for the title on Nov. 15, and the bad news is that Velasquez is out with a knee injury, and you will fight Mark Hunt instead.’"

"I felt weird," he continued. "My goal is the title, of course, but Cain Velasquez was a great challenge and is the current champion, but it happens."

Werdum is 4-0 since returning to the UFC in 2012, and Hunt enters the bout coming off an epic walk-off knockout victory over Roy Nelson in September.

"I watch Mark Hunt fight for a long time, since his K-1 days. He’s a nice guy," Werdum said. "He tries to knock you out all the time. That’s his style. He doesn’t have a great ground game, but he’s good defensively. I will have to change my strategy, but I will stay focused on winning that title on Nov. 15.

"I know it’s not an easy fight," he continued. "Mark Hunt has a huge knockout power, but I will do my best to avoid that. I envision this fight like my fight with Roy Nelson. I will do the right thing to win the title.

"He’s a heavy guy and has a great chin. I have to be careful. I can’t say he’s an easier opponent than Cain Velasquez. There’s no easy fight in the UFC. Anyone can beat you. Everybody knows Mark Hunt’s punching power. I think my only advantage in this fight is that I’m training for a long time for it."

Velasquez’s injury news took the MMA world by surprise on Tuesday, and ruined Werdum’s head coach prediction.

"My master Rafael Cordeiro once told me: ‘Werdum, we’ll fight Velasquez and we will win. After that, you will rematch Velasquez in Las Vegas, and then we will fight Mark Hunt.’ It changed a bit now [laughs]," Werdum said. "I’m a little sad, but I believe I will fight Velasquez next."

Fighting for the UFC gold for the first time, the multiple time jiu-jitsu and ADCC champion has the edge over Hunt on the grappling area, but won’t desperately go for a takedown on Nov. 15.

"Maybe a submission," Werdum said. "I will work hard to get him tired. Who knows, maybe I can surprise him standing. I know it’s not easy. My prediction is that I will win the title. I envision myself speaking to Joe Rogan, with my hands raised, thanking everyone who helped me get here."

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