UFC

Werdum likely next up for Velasquez

Mixed martial arts fighter Fabricio Werdum
Fabricio Werdum will likely get the next crack at Cain.
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Mike Chiappetta

Mike Chiappetta has documented the fast-growing sport of mixed martial arts since 2006 for news organizations including SB Nation, NBCSports.com, FIGHT! Magazine, AOL and ESPN. He appears regularly as an analyst on countless television shows and radio programs, including CBS Radio and MMA Beat. Follow him on Twitter.

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The fight world is so forward-moving, so unforgiving that within an hour of partaking in the most physically taxing matchup of his career, Cain Velasquez was already being made to answer questions about when he would be ready to compete again.

Mercifully, UFC president Dana White stepped in to offer him a brief respite, but that was only after he reiterated the same plan he’s voiced all along: that Velasquez would likely fight Brazilian Fabricio Werdum next up.

Velasquez defended the heavyweight title for the second time with a fifth-round TKO over dos Santos at UFC 166 in Houston.

As the event ended, White made the proclamation that most were expecting, saying, “Werdum is probably next. It makes the most sense.”

The 36-year-old has swept his first three UFC bouts since returning to the promotion, including a submission of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in his last bout. However, he had gone nearly a year between fights, and now faces the prospect of another lengthy layoff. If the Super Bowl timeline plays out, it will be eight months between bouts.

Werdum is one of the most feared submission artists in heavyweight history, with nine tapouts on his ledger as well as several major grappling tournament titles.

Asked whether the UFC would consider the Super Bowl weekend event, which will take place in Newark, New Jersey on Feb. 1, White at first didn’t want to speculate, but soon acknowledged how tempting it would be.

“Obviously that would be great for me,” he said. “Cain has to go home, rest, heal up and we’ll talk in a few weeks.

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