It seldom can be easy for Dana White and the UFC – there’s usually a wrinkle or two along the way.
But most of the time, things just find a way of working themselves out. And that’s how the UFC president seems to be looking at the heavyweight title picture.
Champion Cain Velasquez (11-1 MMA, 9-1 UFC) in May puts his title on the line for the first time since recapturing it when he meets Antonio Silva (18-4 MMA, 2-1 UFC) in the UFC 160 main event. The co-main event of that show will be former champ Junior dos Santos (15-2 MMA, 9-1 UFC) against the suddenly streaking underdog story Hunt (9-7 MMA, 4-1 UFC).
This past week in Montreal, White said that should Hunt pull off another impressive upset against dos Santos the way he did earlier this month when he knocked out Stefan Struve and shattered his jaw in Japan, there would be little reason to deny him a heavyweight title shot.
“It’s crazy to say, … but if he knocks Junior dos Santos out, how is this guy not next in line?” White asked a small group of reporters.
One fighter who would probably have plenty to say about that is Fabricio Werdum (16-5-1 MMA, 4-2 UFC), who meets Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (34-7-1 MMA, 5-3 UFC) in June at UFC on FUEL TV 10 following their coaching stint on “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 2.”
While there certainly aren’t many guarantees in MMA, White in December said that a Werdum win over Nogueira would get him a title shot.
And maybe it will – just with the potential that Hunt could be in front of him, if for no other reason than his fight with dos Santos will be in the books before Werdum fights Nogueira on June 8 in Brazil.
When asked by MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) in Montreal following UFC 158 what the potential for a Hunt title shot with a big win would do to Werdum’s near-term chances to fight for the belt with a win over his own, White said that while the two scenarios left some uncertainties, it was far from a complication.
“That’s a good question, (but) it doesn’t throw a wrench into the works,” White told MMAjunkie.com. “All these things depend on timing, who’s ready, whatever happens. We’ll see how this thing plays out.”
A Hunt win over dos Santos would give him five straight in the UFC’s heavyweight division after losing by quick armbar in his promotional debut to Sean McCorkle at UFC 119. That Hunt was a fighter the UFC reluctantly gave a chance to compete makes his current run even more impressive to White. It’s a run that has included knockouts of Cheick Kongo and Struve, who was 14 inches taller than him.
Werdum has won two straight since returning to the UFC after going 3-1 in Strikeforce. Once one of the UFC’s most promising heavyweights, he was released after being knocked out by dos Santos in dos Santos’ promotional debut at UFC 90. But he rebounded with three straight Strikeforce wins, including a now-legendary 69-second submission of Fedor Emelianenko, breaking a run of nearly 10 years without a loss for “The Last Emperor.”
For the latest on UFC 160 and UFC on FUEL TV 10, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.
(Pictured: Fabricio Werdum)