Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum told reporters Monday he’s withdrawing from the Feb. 6 UFC 196 card that former champion Cain Velasquez pulled out of with a back injury a day earlier.
Werdum first told mmafighting.com that he’s been ailing with foot and back injuries, and that rather than fight replacement heavyweight Stipe Miocic, he’s backing out along with Velasquez.
“I was already injured,” Werdum told the website. “I have a foot injury and haven’t been able to throw kicks in training for two weeks. I would still fight Cain because I was injured the last time, but I also hurt my back last Friday. I went to the doctor, tried to continue training, but couldn’t spar as I should spar.
“I decided not to fight because I’m not 100%. If Cain was the opponent, I would go on. It’s not his fault. It’s nobody’s fault. Injuries happen. You can’t avoid them. I have no option. I made this decision because I’m not feeling 100%.”
Velasquez issued a lengthy apology to his fans and Werdum on his Facebook page Sunday after missing extended time previously with other knee and shoulder injuries.
Werdum defeated Velasquez by submission during the summer in Mexico City, where the high altitude diminished Velasquez in what was a return to his father’s home country.
UFC President Dana White and Chairman Lorenzo Fertitta did not answer phone calls from The Times on Monday, and a UFC spokesman said Werdum’s withdrawal was not official.
The UFC could either place the next contender, Alistair Overeem, into an interim title fight at MGM Grand in Las Vegas, elevate former welterweight champion Johny Hendricks’ bout to the main event or cancel the card completely.
Follow Lance Pugmire on Twitter @latimespugmire