Stipe Miocic thought he struck gold in the UFC's heavyweight division.
When Cain Velasquez pulled out of his Feb. 6 main event against heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum, Miocic was quick to respond. The UFC slid him into place against Werdum, and suddenly the 33-year-old Ohioan secured the title shot he so vocally requested after his knockout victory over Andrei Arlovski at UFC 195 earlier in January.
That change of fortune ultimately proved too good to be true, however, as Werdum announced Monday that he too needed to pull out of UFC 196 with an injury.
Miocic and his camp are none too pleased, and they're struggling to understand exactly why Werdum needs to pull out of the fight.
"We're extremely disappointed to hear that Werdum is pulling out of the fight," Miocic's manager, Greg Kalikas, told MMAFighting.com via text message. "If he's [Werdum is] healthy enough to defend against Cain, we can't understand why he's not healthy enough to fight Stipe, who would only have 12 days to prepare for him as it stands.
"A champion shouldn't pick and choose opponents. A true champion fights all comers. If he won't fight Stipe with a short camp, are we supposed to believe he'd fight Stipe coming off a full training camp? No, he wouldn't... and that's a bad look for the supposed best heavyweight on the planet. All we can hope is that Werdum 'heals' up quick and will agree to fight Stipe sooner rather than later."
The situation is exacerbated for Miocic and his team because of one particular quote from Werdum, relayed by MMAFighting.com's Guilherme Cruz.
"If Cain was the opponent, I would go on," Werdum said after announcing he could not compete at UFC 196.
There is no official word from the UFC yet regarding this volatile main event.