Was the Nevada Athletic Commission right to pull Cain Velasquez off UFC 207 card?
The Nevada State Athletic Commission opted to not approve former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez (14-2) to compete against Fabricio Werdum at UFC 207 due to medical issues.
“Based on medical records, interviews and the best judgment of Chairman Anthony Marnell, attorney general J. Brin Gibson, the executive director’s office and our physicians, in an effort to protect the health and safety of the athletes, it’s been determined Cain Velasquez is unfit to fight,” the NSAC said in a statement.
“The financial incentive for fighters to compete is strongly compelling, and it is the responsibility and obligation of this commission to intervene when excessive risks are evident,” the NSAC said. “It’s obvious Mr. Velasquez is physically compromised, and competing would place him in significant physical risk.”
Earlier this week, Velasquez, 34, told ESPN.com he had suffered from back pain during training camp and was already scheduled to undergo surgery on Jan. 4. The San Jose-based heavyweight said he had relied on Cannabidiol (CBD) to dull the pain enough to train.
“It’s an achy pain that goes down your leg, and it gets to a point where if you’re standing for 10 minutes, you have to sit down,” Velasquez told ESPN.com. “If you’re going out for a while, a half-hour, you know it’s going to be pretty painful. You have to sit down and take the compression off your back.”
The NAC cancelled the bout due to fighter safety.
The UFC will not replace Velasquez with another opponent for Werdum. The fight was to be a rematch from their first title fight where Werdum defeated Velasquez for the belt in Mexico City.
“Saturday afternoon, UFC was informed by the Nevada State Athletic Commission that Cain Velasquez is unfit to fight. As a result, the former two-time heavyweight champion has been removed from his Dec. 30 bout against Fabricio Werdum at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
UFC 207, which is headlined by the women’s bantamweight title fight between Amanda Nunes and Ronda Rousey, will proceed with 10 bouts.”
Was the NAC right to remove Velasquez?
While fans and UFC officials may be upset at the decision to remove Velasquez from the card, the commission is in place for a purpose, fighter safety.
The commission is the final authority on licensing matters, having the ability to approve, deny, revoke, or suspend all licenses for unarmed combat. It may not have been a popular decision, especially among Velasquez and Werdum themselves, but Velasquez did make the comments public, therefore the commission had to acknowledge or they could have been at fault if injury occurred.
Will we eventually see the rematch? That remains to be determined but for now Velasquez will have the surgery and time will tell what his fighting future holds.