Is UFC 196 WerDoomed? – By Paul Jacob

Is UFC 196 WerDoomed? – By Paul Jacob

After Cain Velasquez pulled out of UFC 196 (for more on my thoughts about Cain, click here) and Stipe Miocic stepped in on short notice to replace him, it was revealed that Heavyweight Champ Fabricio Werdum has decided to pull out. Werdum cited injury.

Normally I would have zero issue with the injury bug. If you aren’t fit enough and it is going to cause you damage then by all means consider postponing your return to the octagon. My issue is with the assertion that had Cain had pressed ahead, Werdum would have followed suit.

There are very few cardinal sins in MMA; Hitting someone after the bell, Crotch shots, Intentional eye pokes, Holding onto a submission once your opponent has tapped (etc.) and of course PED’s (Performance Enhancing Drugs). PED’s to me is the biggest one, but some may say Werdum has committed a crime on almost the same level. I get it – to have been offered an opportunity to “save” UFC 196 and turn it down in this manner, is scandalous.

Stipe Miocic is currently ranked number 2 in the division. His recent run has been impressive, despite a loss to “Cigano” Junior dos Santos. Fabio Maldonado, Roy Nelson and Gabriel Gonzaga have all fallen to Stipe. Last month, the “Super Samoan” Mark Hunt was defeated by TKO, paving the way for a potential title shot. The liklihood, is Stipe was next anyway.

Whilst Cain has “previous” for pulling out injured, can we really assume Stipe was in the gym preparing for Werdum? If he was, what happens if Werdum had come down injured? Would he have been prepared for Cain? I personally don’t buy it. I assume he was preparing for either eventuality but not to the extent of a full camp. Either way, Miocic will have been under prepared.

I figure that if you get into this game, you must have some element of competitiveness within you. Why would Werdum pull out of a fight with a fighter who has had little to no preparation?

I know that as Champion, he has everything to lose, but don’t we expect our champions to be fighting Champions? I must be naive (as Nic Cage said in the great film ‘Snakeyes’…. “There are worse things to be”), but I can’t fathom why more fighters don’t have the “anyone, any place, any time” attitude. That’s why I have to respect Neil Magny, for taking a few short notice fights in recent times.

In all likelihood, Werdum will return, fight again and everyone will forget that UFC 196 lost its luster because of his withdrawl. Such is the fickle nature of the fight business. It will then only be brought up again when the next high profile person does the same. The example would be Jon Jones, when Chael Sonnen said he would take the short notice fight.

However, I just feel that Fabricio has not only let himself down, but also the UFC and most importantly, the fans with his admission that he would continue if Cain were the opponent. If he is fit enough for Cain, surely he is fit enough for Stipe?

There was talk of a Jon Jones vs. Stipe Miocic fight for the Interim Heavyweight title. Personally I would love to see what “Bones” can do at Heavyweight. The question is though, what’s next for the Heavyweight Division?



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