Attempting to cement his legacy as perhaps UFC’s greatest heavyweight champion, Cain Velasquez puts his belt on the line against interim champ Fabricio Werdum in the main event of UFC 188 Saturday night at Mexico City Arena.
Velasquez (13-1, 11 KOs) has just the one blemish on his record and already blasted closest rival Junior dos Santos with two straight victories, and he likely would’ve continued his torrid run through UFC’s challengers if not for the torn meniscus and sprained MCL that derailed his progress back in Nov. 2014.
Now 20 long months later and UFC and mixed martial arts fans are eager to find out whether the 32-year-old has lost a step or can return to glory and continue his marvelous and knockout-laden career.
All but two of the American’s victories have come by rendering an opponent unconscious or unable to carry on, including behemoth Brock Lesnar as well as Dos Santos and Antonio Silva twice. And Velasquez typically makes quick work of his opponents, with only five getting past the first round.
But the technical and seasoned Werdum (19-5, 6 KOs) represents a different challenge for Velasquez, and doesn’t figure to simply be a warmup for bigger things down the line.
The 37-year-old Brazilian claims nine submissions in 19 career victories, and despite his five losses, Werdum’s showed the patience necessary for finding the right moment to strike with an armbar or triangle.
And it’s not like Werdum lacks punching power or the confidence to go toe-to-toe with some of the sport’s heaviest hitters. In Werdum’s last bout, he took down American Mark Hunt, also in Mexico City, with a flying knee and punch combo. Before that he earned a five-round decision in the title eliminator over Travis Browne. Thirteen of Browne’s 17 career victories had come via a knockout.
Start Time: The entire event is scheduled to start at 10 p.m. ET, but depending on how the undercards pan out Velasquez and Werdum should enter the octagon and battle around 11:30 or 11:45 p.m.
PPV Info: Ordering the fight for online or television viewing can be down through your cable provider or at UFC’s official site.
Betting Odds: Velasquez -550
Prediction: Werdum certainly has the ability to submit Velasquez, and the 20-month absence is reason enough to suspect Velasquez has some octagon rust to chip away. But by the second round Velasquez will probably find his legs and come away with a KO or a decision.