Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) could go a full year -- maybe more -- without a heavyweight title fight.
That's because reigning division kingpin Cain Velasquez, who hasn't defended his crown since a UFC 166 drubbing of Junior dos Santos, is still recovering from surgery and has no intention of rushing back to the fight game, despite the fact he's already been paired off with a new division number one contender.
In addition, Velasquez is being eyed as a possible coach for The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Latin America," where he would join Fabricio Werdum on the combat sports reality show this May in Las Vegas, Nevada, delaying their heavyweight hoedown until November.
Or not, according to Ariel Helwani on UFC Tonight:
"I spoke to his wrestling coach and he told me that Cain's doctor cleared him to use his right hand in training two weeks ago, but he's not sure if Cain's ready to use the left hand yet. He's not sure if he'll be ready by November. He said he won't rush into the fight that's targeted for then. He won't fight until he's 100 percent. There's talk of Cain coaching The Ultimate Fighter Latin America, and the UFC has approached him about it, and they could film it in May in Las Vegas. It would be a likely scenario that he'd coach against Werdum now."
It should. UFC lightweight titleholder Anthony Pettis was faced with a similar situation after his UFC 164 title win against Ben Henderson last August. "Showtime" went under the knife instead of putting his belt up for grabs, then got paired off with Gilbert Melendez for a TUF 20 coaching gig later this year.
First scheduled title defense?
UFC 182 in December 2014, which marks 16 months between 155-pound title fights. As is the case with Velasquez, the division is held hostage when a champion is tied up and forces top contenders to contemplate extended absences -- or substitute fights -- to preserve their title shots.