Velasquez had been expected to return to the Octagon on Saturday after having sat on the sidelines for more than a year while recovering from shoulder surgery. Unfortunately, an sprained medial collateral ligament and torn meniscus in his right knee forced Velasquez out of his title defense against Fabricio Werdum, and in stepped Mark Hunt.
Velasquez, meanwhile, is expected to be fully healthy and ready to return by March of 2015, according to UFC president Dana White. If he suffers another setback and can’t fight by March or somewhere thereabouts, it could mean the end of his title reign.
“We’re headed in that direction now,” White told UFC.com on Thursday. “This next fight in Mexico is for the interim title. So if Cain couldn’t compete again, the winner of this fight would be seen as the champion.”
It’s not that White wants Velasquez to lose his belt. He’s a popular fighter, and his Mexican heritage, the UFC is counting on Velasquez’s popularity to help make inroads with the Hispanic market. But after the bantamweight championship was in limbo for more than two years while Dominick Cruz suffered setback after setback, the UFC is now much more hesitant to wait it out if one if its champions can’t get back in the cage.