UFC heavyweight champion has issued a statement defending his decision to pull out of UFC 196 after coming under fire due to comments he made that suggested he wasn’t as badly injured as he was claiming to be.

The UFC had initially hoped to keep Werdum in the main event spot of the pay-per-view card next weekend when his original opponent Cain Velasquez pulled out due to a back injury, drafting in Stipe Miocic as a replacement instead. However, that fight had barely been announced by the UFC when suddenly Werdum also withdrew, stating that he was suffering from an ongoing foot injury and had also just injured his back.

Werdum then made a significant PR blunder when he then told the media that he would still have fought if he was fighting Velasquez.

That suggested that the real reason he pulled out of the event was not so much due to his injuries as it was him just not wanting to fight Miocic. That angered some fans, and presumably didn’t win him any friends at UFC HQ given that they’ve since had to take the event off of pay-per-view, rebill it as a ‘Fight Night’ card and make plans to air it on FOX Sports 1 instead due to being unable to find another suitable headline fight on such short notice, no doubt taking a big financial hit in the process.

Despite all that Werdum is sticking to his guns and has issued a new statement reaffirming his belief that he made the right decision.

Read his full statement below.

“I think it was the best decision I’ve ever made in my life not to fight Cain, Miocic or any other fighter because I had a back injury. Yet, at the same time I’m sad I wasn’t able to compete, I’m happy because I was able to see many things after this injury. I spent some time with my family, my wife and kids, and saw that everything is transitory.

Some people talked really bad about me, mean things, and other supported me as family and friends. I was thinking how cruel people can be when I was injured and I made a really important decision. The best decision I’ve ever made in my life. I’m criticized without suffering a defeat, and I imagined how it would be if I had fought for the fans, for the promotion, for anything, and suffered a defeat. But I didn’t suffer a defeat.

I decided not to fight because of my health, so I can recover and be 100 percent. Imagine if you’re remembered as that guy that suffered a severe injury, the guy that became paralyzed. Imagine that. How would people talk about me? Would those people care to know about me later, or only now that I’m the champion?

It was good in a way. Of course I’m upset I wasn’t able to fight, that I trained and did a strategy to fight Cain and this happened, but it was good that I didn’t suffer a defeat. I imagine (when) Anderson Silva (lost), when Jon Jones had issues with the justice and drugs, when Ronda (Rousey) lost and everyone went all over her. I didn’t even fight, and people were all over me, criticizing me. Everyone makes his own reality. The important is that you enjoy your family, your life. There’s no other option. That’s what matters the most.

At the same time, I say that was the best decision I’ve ever made because I can see who’s who, and who’s with me in the toughest hours. I wasn’t able to do what I love. I love to fight and train so I can go there and put on a show and interact with the fans. This glamour that the fight business has motivates me, but at the same time it unmotivated me.

I haven’t fought after training hard and dedicating with my team and all my coaches, and see this. I was able to see all this. How people are mean. Those people who criticize me have to look inside themselves, see how their lives are, and think about it. ‘I’m criticizing him, but how am I? Am I happy with myself? Am I happier when I’m criticizing the other?’

That’s what I had to say. I had to get this out of my chest. Again, that was the best decision I’ve ever made in my life, not to fight and think about myself.”

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