HEAVYWEIGHT champion Fabricio Werdum has pulled out of his defence at UFC 196 in Las Vegas on February 6.
The Brazilian, 38, who was originally set to face Cain Velasquez, has withdrawn from his bout with Stipe Miocic due to a back injury picked up in training.
He told Brazilian press: “I made this decision together with my team. We decided not to fight. Cain can’t fight. I was going to hide the injury one more time, like I always did. I tried to hide it, but couldn’t this time.
“I can’t fight if I’m not 100 percent, to put on a show like I always did.”
The main event had already changed after injury-prone former belt holder Velasquez dropped out, writing on Facebook: “All of us fighters have all fought injured at one time or another, but I can’t ignore this injury, as my doctor has indicated that not addressing theproblems with my sciatic nerve could have longer-term consequences.”
Velasquez’s exit saw No.2-ranked Miocic step in, but the Croatian-American will now have to wait for his shot at the title.
UFC president Dana White has yet to announce a new headline bout, although Jon ‘Bones’ Jones, who has just returned from a suspension, has said he would be willing to step up from light-heavyweight and face Miocic, but only if the title and not an interim belt was up for grabs. He tweeted: “If it was for the actual title, I would totally do it.”