by Steven Marrocco – MMAWeekly.com
At this point, Cain
Velasquez might be the only healthy fighter on the UFC’s
Velasquez, 27, has
seen the division’s landscape alter drastically since his dominating TKO win over Ben Rothwell at UFC 104.
Kickboxing Academy fighter’s peers – Brock Lesnar,
Shane Carwin, and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
– have all been shelved due to injuries or illness, the last of which
robbed him of a possible contender slot when Nogueira
got a staph infection and withdrew from their meeting
at UFC 108.
Gabriel Gonzaga was recently forced to withdraw from the Jan. 2 card when he also
came down with a staph infection. The division’s
up-and-comers are suffering too: Todd Duffee’s back
is injured and Pat Barry’s hand is still in a cast.
Velasquez says he’s
gotten staph several times as a wrestler at Arizona
State University, so he can relate to the troubles of the Brazilian fighters.
Still, it seems like
there’s no one left. And after a fast rise, he and his managers are waiting for
that all-important phone call.
“I just think it’s part of the sport when people get hurt,” Velasquez
said. “It just so happens that a lot of people got hurt in this weight class.”
Nogueira, meanwhile, said he still wants to fight Velasquez,
possibly in February at the promotion’s first trip to Australia.
Velasquez, who was
originally scheduled to face Carwin at UFC 104, says
he’ll take either. Both are dangerous fights with a silver lining.
you can never count him out,” he said. “You hurt him, whatever – he’ll
still submit you and beat you. He’s just a super tough guy. And Carwin, he’s a big, powerful guy, so any time you make a
mistake he’ll capitalize on that.”
The 34-year-old Carwin’s future was recently thrown into the balance when Lesnar was hospitalized and diagnosed with a possible
career-ending illness. He, too, is taking time off for a knee problem and
waiting for a call.
Whoever he ends up
fighting, Velasquez hopes something happens soon.
“(I hope) they
recover quickly so we can get a fight going,” he said.