Cain Velasquez will not be licensed to fight at UFC 207.
The Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) has pulled Velasquez from his bout with Fabricio Werdum on the Dec. 30 card in Las Vegas, commission executive director Bob Bennett confirmed Saturday with MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani. The situation follows Velasquez telling ESPN.com last week that pain from a back and leg injury, which requires surgery, is so bad that he has been using cannabidiol oil to remedy it during training camp.
"Based on the medical records, interviews with Mr. Velasquez and best judgment of our chairman, chief representatives, executive director and physicians, and to protect the health and safety of the fighter, we've determined Mr. Velasquez is unfit to fight,” Bennett told Helwani.
ESPN was the first to report Velasquez’s inability to get licensed to compete.
Velasquez, 34, had to pull out of a fight with Werdum back in February for a similar back injury. The former UFC heavyweight champion has a long, arduous history with injury troubles, including seven surgeries. The eighth will be on his back Jan. 4, which was five days after what would have been the fight with Werdum.
Velasquez told Helwani earlier this week that he would be good to go for UFC 207 and the injury wouldn’t be a problem.
“I'll be fine,” Velasquez said. “I’m getting a cortisone shot. I'll be 100 percent, no problem. I'm doing two-hour practices now on my feet. I'm good, and I will be good.”
That wasn’t enough for the commission. Bennett said it is the NAC’s “obligation to intervene when excessive risks are evident.”
"It's obvious Mr. Velasquez is physically compromised and that would place him at significant physical disadvantage in the fight,” Bennett said. “Therefore, we've gone ahead and suspended his license due to medical reasons.”
In the interview with ESPN, Velasquez said the issue is with the sciatic nerve in his back that is causing pain in his right leg.
"It's an achy pain that goes down your leg, and it gets to a point where if you're standing for 10 minutes, you have to sit down," Velasquez told ESPN. "If you're going out for a while, a half-hour, you know it's going to be pretty painful. You have to sit down and take the compression off your back.
"The surgery is basically shaving off some bone to make room for my sciatic nerve. After the last surgery, the doctor said I might be pain-free forever, but knowing how I train and what I do as a fighter, the pain could come back. I didn't really know how long I was going to feel good. It ended up being about a year.”
The UFC will not look for a new opponent for Werdum, who beat Velasquez to win the UFC heavyweight title at UFC 188 in June 2015. Werdum has since dropped the belt to Stipe Miocic.
UFC 207, headlined by a women’s bantamweight title fight between champion Ronda Rousey and Amanda Nunes, will proceed with 10 fights.