LAS VEGAS - UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez has injured his right knee in training, forcing him out of his title defense against Fabricio Werdum on Nov. 15.
Mark Hunt will meet Werdum for an interim heavyweight title at UFC 180, the mixed martial arts promotion’s debut in Mexico.
Velasquez (13-1) was the main focus of the UFC’s first card in Mexico City, where the 21,000-seat arena sold out in eight hours.
“I’m so unbelievably disappointed that this happened,” Velasquez said in a statement. “To say I was looking forward to fighting in Mexico for the first time is an understatement. I wanted to fight on that card so bad. Looks like it wasn’t meant to be and it’s not going to happen. I’m going to get my [right] knee fixed and get back to training as soon as I can. I’m sorry to the fans in Mexico who were expecting this fight, and I hope to be able to come down and still be a part of this historic event.”
The Mexican-American champion hasn’t fought since October 2013, when he beat Junior Dos Santos in his second title defense.
The 40-year-old Hunt (10-8-1), from New Zealand, beat Roy Nelson on Sept. 20.
“I feel blessed to have this opportunity to fight for another world title," Hunt said. "This is something that doesn’t happen often to people. First K1 and now UFC – how can I say no, even though it’s on short notice? I’m dropping everything and flying to Mexico tomorrow so I can best prepare myself for this fight. I have to get into shape and acclimatize to that environment, which is really important."
Werdum (18-5-1), who is from Brazil, has won seven of his last eight fights.