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UFC 188 fight card primer: Cain Velasquez vs Fabricio Werdum

Bloody Elbow presents a preview of UFC 188: Velasquez vs. Werdum in our fight card primer series. Here we look at the main event: Cain Velasquez vs. Fabricio Werdum for the UFC Heavyweight title.

Esther Lin, MMA Fightnig

In the main event at UFC 188: Velasquez vs. Werdum, we unify the UFC Heavyweight titles as Heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez (13-1 MMA; 11-1 UFC) faces Interim Heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum (19-5-1 MMA; 7-2 UFC). This five round title fight caps off the five fight UFC 188 PPV main card. The UFC Rankings have both men at the top of the division obviously, with Cain also sitting at #4 on the pound for pound list and Werdum at #14. UFC 188: Velasquez vs. Werdum airs live from Mexico City, Mexico this Saturday, June 13. The main card airs on PPV with a fight time of 10:00 p.m. ET / 7:00 p.m. PT, with the prelims starting at  8:00 p.m. ET on FX and 6:30 p.m. ET on Fight Pass.

This fight has been a long time coming and it's one to get excited for. The two men were coaches on TUF: Latin America last year, and were scheduled to fight in November at UFC 180. When Velasquez was forced out of that bout with an injury, Werdum defeated replacement Mark Hunt to become the interim champion. Now, you have Cain returning after a near two year absence to face the division's most dangerous submission fighter (and now one of its most dangerous strikers as well) in a unification fight. This is a big one.

How do these two stack up?

Velasquez: 32 years old | 6'1" | 77" reach
Werdum: 37 years old | 6'4" | 77" reach

What have these two done recently?

Velasquez: W - Junior dos Santos (TKO) | W - Antonio Silva (TKO) | W - Junior dos Santos (UD)
Werdum: W - Mark Hunt (TKO) | W - Travis Browne (UD) | W - Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (Sub)

How did these two get here?

Cain Velasquez is one of the most dominant Heavyweights we've seen in the sport, and has looked incredible in every fight outside of his 1 minute KO loss to Junior dos Santos back in 2011. His combination of high level wrestling, accurate striking, and world class cardio makes him a fearsome machine and a formidable champion. At the same time, it feels like a completely different era from when he was at his heights. He first won the title by defeating now WWE wrestler Brock Lesnar way back in 2010 - a show where Matt Hamill vs. Tito Ortiz was a heavily featured fight. Since then, he has swapped back and forth between Cigano and Bigfoot Silva, with plenty of very significant injury gaps in there. With two years on the shelf it's very hard to know what to expect from the now 32 year old nine year veteran, but if he is at top form, he's a scary man indeed.

Fabricio Werdum is a 13 year pro who first made his name in Pride. He had a mostly unsuccessful UFC run in 2008 that is mainly remembered for Werdum serving as a launching pad for the ascendance of Junior dos Santos, and seemed primed to be a top level but never elite Heavyweight. That all changed on June 26, 2010 when he did the unthinkable, tapping out Fedor Emelianenko. Since his first UFC stint, Werdum is 8-1 and undefeated in his current UFC run. Always a dangerous grappler, he's since become a very good striker, and his flying knee KO of Mark Hunt was quite impressive. Much like his opponent here, Werdum is not an especially active fighter, and as a result, despite being 37 years old, he seems to be in his prime right now.

Why should you care?

The champion returns against an incredibly tough opponent. You need to see it.