LAS VEGAS — Throughout the lead-up to UFC 207, former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez has reiterated numerous times that he wanted to fight Fabricio Werdum and was opposed to the Nevada Athletic Commission’s decision to remove him from the card at the eleventh hour due to concerns over a back injury that Velasquez revealed in an interview with ESPN.
But UFC president Dana White isn’t convinced.
“Read the interview. It doesn’t sound like he wants to fight to me,” White told the media in Las Vegas on Wednesday. “When you’re a fighter, and you do an interview days before a fight and say you can’t stand for 10 minutes, that’s insanity. First of all, this is the best organization in the world for fighting. He’s fighting one of the best fighters on Earth, and that fights last 15 minutes.
“You know how irresponsible it would be, not only for the UFC, but for any athletic commission to allow that fight to happen? It absolutely makes no sense. I love Cain. Cain’s one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. But if you read that article, it does not sound like he wants to fight.”
Velasquez was pulled off UFC 207 last week after revealing that he was experiencing pain in his right left due to bone spurs, “to a point where if you’re standing for 10 minutes, you have to sit down.” Velasquez said he used Cannabidiol spray throughout his training camp to help ease the pain, but insisted that he had been cleared to compete by medical professionals, with his doctors stating that no further structural damage to the injury could come from Velasquez fighting Werdum.
Velasquez’s claims ultimately fell on deaf ears though, as the NAC pulled him off the card and Nevada’s executive director, Bob Bennett, stated that it was “obvious Mr. Velasquez is physically compromised and that would place him at significant physical disadvantage in the fight.” Velasquez expressed regret over the situation in a follow-up statement on Wednesday, however White said he was simply surprised that Velasquez was so willing to be upfront about his injury.
“I think that interview happened and I think he was honest,” White said. “Maybe he didn’t really think that would happen. Every fighter, you guys have been watching these fights for 16 years, every time a guy loses a fight and gets up there and goes, ‘yeah, my back is broke. I blew my knee out two weeks ago. I twisted my ankle.’ After the fight, you say it. If you go in before a fight saying those things, you will be taken out of the fight.”
In his statement on Wednesday, Velasquez acknowledged that he may have been “too transparent” with his answers, but that he did not “intend to edit myself and especially not when my doctors and I know for a fact that I’m ready to fight.” Velasquez also thanked the commission for its professionalism and stated that he intended to return to competition “a few short weeks” after his surgery in January.
So while the situation is less than ideal for a UFC 207 card already facing many tough questions, White was confident that the commission made the right decision.
“His doctor said get a surgery, he was dealing with pain, which is completely normal for the injury,” White said. “He was dealing with pain and he was just going to have the surgery after the fight. What he didn’t say is, ‘I can’t stand for 10 minutes. I can’t do this.’ And even (UFC executive) Jeff Novitzky was there, said he was having trouble standing up and sitting down at the doctor’s office. So there’s no way in hell that guy should be fighting right now.”