Fabricio Werdum finds himself in a bit of a tough spot with news that UFC Heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez is recovering from shoulder surgery. He last fought this June against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, submitting him with a 2nd round armbar. It moved him up to 3-0 in his UFC return and put him in line for a title shot against Velasquez. With Velasquez out for an extended period of time, Werdum could either take another fight or wait until Cain is healthy to get his title shot. In an interview with MMA Fighting, Werdum said he's leaning towards waiting, but will make his decision next week:
"They told me it's my decision," Werdum told MMAFighting.com. "I had a meeting with Dana White and my team, the UFC said it's up to me, if I want to wait or fight again. I'm still thinking about it, but I believe I'm going to wait for this opportunity to fight for the title. I'm the next in line. But it's not 100 percent yet."
"I believe (Cain Velasquez) will return soon, probably around July or August," he said. "It's normal to recover quickly today, so that's what I hope. I'll even send my physical therapist to help him get better. I'll pay for his recovery (laughs).
Alternatively, Werdum could fight the winner of Josh Barnett vs. Travis Browne, which is scheduled for the UFC 168 main card in two weeks time. Otherwise he would be risking more than a year's worth of inactivity in exchange for a shot at the belt. He'll be 37 by the time Velasquez is ready to fight again, so age is definitely a factor when weighing the possibility of squandering a title shot and having to earn it all over again.
There isn't really a logjam of contenders at heavyweight as there is for lightweight, so I think Werdum would be best served sitting out the first half of 2014 and prepare for a showdown with Velasquez late next year. Even including his loss to Alistair Overeem, he has the best string of wins in the division outside of Junior dos Santos, who definitely won't be rushed into a 4th fight with Velasquez any time soon. I believe based on body of evidence he's earned his title shot, it's just unfortunate timing that it will be quite a while before he can fight Cain.
What should Werdum decide? Should he stay the course and wait until Velasquez is healthy, or take one more fight to solidify his spot as the "#1 contender"?