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LAS VEGAS – UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez‘s injury layoff will create a title eliminator fight for next year.

UFC President Dana White today said the promotion is planning to match the winner of Josh Barnett (33-6 MMA, 5-1 UFC) vs. Travis Browne (15-1-1 MMA, 6-1-1 UFC) against Brazilian standout Fabricio Werdum (17-5-1 MMA, 5-2 UFC).

White, who spoke during a news conference in support of UFC 168, did not mention a timetable for the fight, but it presumably would be set according to the health of Saturday’s winner between Barnett and Browne.

Browne and Barnett meet on the pay-per-view main card of UFC 168, which takes place at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Velasquez (13-1 MMA, 11-1 UFC) currently is on the mend as he recovers from a torn labrum he suffered while defending his title against ex-champ Junior dos Santos in October at UFC 166.

Velasquez recently underwent surgery and tweeted a pic from his hospital bed. A rep from his camp said the procedure would set him back three months, but subsequent reports extended that timetable, stating he could be out for most of 2014.

White was noncommittal about the heavyweight title picture, but the surgery apparently has prompted the promotion to take action.

The news could be bittersweet for Werdum, who’s waited for Velasquez since a second-round submission of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in June.

For more on UFC 168, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.

(Pictured: Fabricio Werdum)

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