Depending on whether you’ve been up to no good in the last 18 hours or so, chances are you’ve heard that Cain Velasquez will no longer fight Fabricio Werdum at UFC 180, due to a knee injury. Instead, Mark Hunt has been tapped to fight the #1 contender, and Werdum apparently isn’t expecting an easier time of it on November 15th.
In a follow up report from MMA Fighting.com, Werdum has weighed in on the new match-up, which on paper, certainly appears to be much different. In Hunt, Werdum will face one of the sport’s nastiest strikers, but one that’s not blessed with the wrestling pedigree or ground skills of Velasquez.
Here is some of what Werdum had to say about Hunt:
“I watch Mark Hunt fight for a long time, since his K-1 days. He’s a nice guy,” Werdum said. “He tries to knock you out all the time. That’s his style. He doesn’t have a great ground game, but he’s good defensively. I will have to change my strategy, but I will stay focused on winning that title on Nov. 15.”
“He’s a heavy guy and has a great chin. I have to be careful. I can’t say he’s an easier opponent than Cain Velasquez. There’s no easy fight in the UFC. Anyone can beat you. Everybody knows Mark Hunt’s punching power. I think my only advantage in this fight is that I’m training for a long time for it.”
The decorated jiu-jitsu competitor added that a submission win is possible, but noted that he might surprise Hunt on his feet. Werdum is certainly better known for the great harm he can do to someone on the ground, but his striking is no joke. Several of his most recent victories have come via his stand-up skills rather than his submission game.
Case in point, Werdum outscored Travis Browne for the unanimous decision victory in April, who heading into the bout, had bombed out Gabriel Gonzaga. Alistair Overeem and Josh Barnett in consecutive fights.
While Werdum may not think Hunt’s an easier match-up for him, chances are he’s not in the majority, in terms of that opinion. Sure, Hunt is a ridiculously dangerous fighter with underrated grappling skills, but there’s a reason Velasquez is currently ranked #5 in the UFC’s pound-for-pound ranks.
UFC 180 will go down in Mexico City, Mexico, and will be available via pay-per-view.