Cain Velasquez was originally scheduled to fight in his parents’ homeland of Mexico on 11/15, in front of a sold-out local crowd prepared for the first ever UFC event in the country’s history. Unfortunately, a right knee injury knocked him out before he could try his opponent.
Boxing has always been the second biggest buzz for Mexican sports fans, behind only top-flight soccer matches. MMA’s biggest promotion landing in the heart of Mexico City with its Heavyweight champion, a proud Mexican-American, could very well have put this combat sport on the map.
Fear not, despite Velasquez’s frustrating right knee injury, the show will go on.
In the new main event, Fabricio Werdum, the well-rounded Brazilian foe originally scheduled to collide with Cain, faces riveting “Super Samoan” Mark Hunt for the vacant UFC interim Heavyweight title.
Werdum, 37, has been a sustained force in MMA. For many years, he’s competed with the best in Pride, Strikeforce, and the UFC, where he’s comprised a 6-2 Octagon record, and hasn’t lost in four fights.
Werdum is a multifaceted MMA fighter, his credentials left unquestioned as he’s a second-degree black belt in BJJ and has been awarded black belts in Judo and Muay Thai.
Very skilled and crafty on the ground and commensurate when on his feet or against the cage, Werdum won’t be easy to get by come fight night.
Mark Hunt, 40, has brutal knockouts over Roy Nelson, Stefan Struve, and Cheick Kongo on his ledger, paired with tough decision victories over Wanderlei Silva and Mirko Cro Cop from his early Pride days.
While Hunt is known for his limitations off his back, having dropped six fights by submission, he’s learned to prevent takedowns and defend submissions over the years. Werdum will still be gunning for the ground, and his ability to get there could determine the winner of this fight.
Still, with no Mexicans in the main event, one has to wonder how it will sell with the locals. This fight will still be distributed on Pay-Per-View in the US, and sales might also dip in that category. With that said, the entertainment value won’t plunge with either of these men in the cage, and an exciting lineup on the undercard.
With that, some interesting crossroads match-ups fill the main card as Kevin Gastelum challenges Jake Ellenberger, also, the always-exciting Ricardo Lamas takes on hot prospect Dennis Bermudez.
Also, Hector Urbina goes up against Edgar Garcia in the opening Pay-Per-View attraction.
That fight probably won’t be as good as the originally-planned clash of two men with 13 combined “Fight of the Night” bonuses, Joe Lauzon Vs. Diego Sanchez, but any fight featuring these scrappy, aggressive Mexican-Americans should be worth watching.
We will also see many of Mexico and the United States’ most exciting young prospects featured in the prelims. A bout between Women’s Bantamweight contenders Jessica Eye and Leslie Smith could very well steal the early part of the show.
The moral of the story: While it took a couple of huge hits, UFC 180 still has plenty of potential when big-time MMA heads to Mexico City.