Veteran heavyweight Fabricio Werdum finds himself in a tough spot at the moment with news this week that UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez had undergone shoulder surgery. While there have been differing lengths mentioned concerning a recovery time, it is clear that the champion will be out for a large portion of 2014.
After Velasquez defeated Junior dos Santos in their trilogy fight at UFC 166 in Houston, President Dana White made it clear that Werdum would be up next for the champ. The Brazilian has patiently been waiting for his opportunity since a second-round submission victory in June over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, and has been on the sidelines since.
With Velazquez on the shelf until possibly late next year, the UFC would like to see the submission specialist take a fight against the winner of the December 28 bout between Josh Barnett and Travis Browne. The winner of that matchup at UFC 168 and Werdum would clearly have established themselves as the top contenders for when Velasquez returns. However, Werdum has to decide whether to continue to wait on the champion and stay on the sidelines or to earn a payday.
There would be plenty of risk for the veteran as either Barnett or Browne would be a formidable challenge and a loss would derail his title hopes. However, if Werdum continues to play the waiting game, it will end up being over a year in between fights for the 36-year old contender.
Werdum is going to mull things over and let UFC officials know next week what his intentions are. There had been previous reports that the promotion had been eyeing a Velasquez-Werdum clash to headline the UFC’s first venture into Mexico in 2014. Obviously, the Velasquez injury scuttled all of that.
Werdum has certainly impressed in his second stint with the promotion, reeling off three consecutive victories. He’s riding a ton of confidence at the moment and is in a great position. It’ll be interesting to see if he’s willing to risk it and take on the winner of Barnett-Browne, or whether he’ll continue to wait for Velasquez.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports