It looks like Cain Velasquez won’t be getting his rematch with Fabricio Werdum at UFC 207 after all. Velasquez, who publicized a back injury and was asked by the UFC to undergo more testing today, has apparently not been cleared by the Nevada Athletic Commission to compete. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto passed on the bad news:
BREAKING: According to sources, Cain Velasquez vs. Fabricio Werdum at UFC 207 will not happen. NSAC ruled out Velasquez for medical reasons.— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) December 24, 2016
As late as yesterday, Velasquez was adamant that he would be able to fight and the additional testing the UFC wanted was a mere formality. Apparently not.
The bout was to be a rematch of their UFC 188 bout where Werdum defeated Velasquez by submission to win the UFC heavyweight title. Velasquez has been up front about his injury, which led him to use CBD in an attempt to manage the pain. He already has surgery scheduled for early January but played down the impact of it in a recent Q&A with Ariel Helwani of MMA Fighting.
It’s unclear if the UFC has a plan in place to keep Werdum on the card, but considering UFC 207 is only a week away and it is the holiday season, it seems rather unlikely.
UPDATE - According to Velasquez himself, he hasn’t heard that he’s out yet:
Was just cleared by Dr 30 mins ago and then he conferenced the Nevada Athletic Commision and spoke to them and recleared me with them.— Cain Velasquez (@cainmma) December 24, 2016
UPDATE 2 - Okamoto has responded to Cain’s tweets, confirming that he’s out:
NSAC executive director Bob Bennett has confirmed on record Cain's license has been suspended for medical reasons.— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) December 24, 2016
I spoke to Cain. Texted him before reporting, too. Unfortunate how the timing of this story came out. Will post NSAC statement shortly.— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) December 24, 2016
UPDATE 3 - The Nevada State Athletic Commission has put out an official statement (via ESPN):
"Based on medical records, interviews and the best judgment of Chairman Anthony Marnell, attorney general J. Brin Gibson, the executive director's office and our physicians, in an effort to protect the health and safety of the athletes, it's been determined Cain Velasquez is unfit to fight," the NSAC said in a statement.
"The financial incentive for fighters to compete is strongly compelling, and it is the responsibility and obligation of this commission to intervene when excessive risks are evident," the NSAC said. "It's obvious Mr. Velasquez is physically compromised and competing would place him in significant physical risk."