Former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez has issued a statement explaining his decision to pull out of his title rematch with Fabricio Werdum at UFC 196 just two weeks before fight night.
In the statement posted on Facebook Velasquez explained that an ongoing issue with his sciatic nerve that was threatening to cause him longer term damage if he’d fought in a fortnight’s time is the reason he’s had to cancel on short notice.
“I’m sure you’ve heard the news that I won’t be able to fight at UFC 196. I can’t begin to tell you how disappointed I am and how I feel I’m letting you all down. I’ve heard and read all of your messages of support since my last fight and during this camp and for that I thank you.
Training camp has been difficult for the last few weeks, but sometimes no matter how much the heart and mind want to fight through an injury, healing has its own timeline. We thought we’d get through it, but we had to face the truth that it wasn’t going to be OK in time to fight. All of us fighters have all fought injured at one time or another, but I can’t ignore this injury, as my doctor has indicated that not addressing the problems with my sciatic nerve could have longer-term consequences.
My fans deserve to see me compete as close to 100% as possible. I’m committed to giving them that. I’m not going to let my fans down, and I want to make sure I do the right things to ensure a long career.
Fabricio, I hope that you accept my sincere apology. I understand how you may think this is an excuse. From one professional to another, I can tell you I was committed and looking forward to competing with you again. I greatly respect you as a fighter and man, and we will meet soon.
I will get this taken care of as soon as possible. I will heal and will come back and show you the Cain Velasquez you all deserve to see.
Velasquez has been plagued by injuries throughout his career and as a result has only fought once in the past two and a half years. That fact, together with being ill-prepared to deal with the effects of altitude in Mexico City last year appeared to play a part in his disappointing performance during a third round submission loss to Werdum in the summer of last year at UFC 188.
Another layoff is the last thing the 33 year-old needs and will lead to questions as to whether we’ll ever see a 100% fit and healthy Velasquez again in the Octagon. If not that would be a real shame as, at his best, Velasquez is as good a heavyweight as we’ve ever seen in the sport.
With Velasquez out, No.2 contender Stipe Micioc now steps in on two weeks notice to fight Fabrico Werdum for the title in the main event of UFC 196 in Las Vegas.