White said on Thursday in Las Vegas that a recent meeting with Werdum gave the No. 1 heavyweight contender the understanding that UFC brass would prefer to see him compete while the injured Velasquez heals from shoulder surgery.
“We met with him a couple weeks ago,” White told reporters, following the UFC 168 pre-fight press conference. “I think he understood where we were on that thing and we wanted him to fight.”
White explained that similar experiences in the past have shown that waiting for the champion to heal doesn't foster the best results for No.1 contenders. To prevent any unfortunate circumstances for Werdum, White would prefer he mixes it up with Saturday's winner between Josh Barnett and Travis Browne.
“Yeah, that’s what we’re planning,” White said, when asked if the plan is to match Werdum with the UFC 168 winner.
White remained unclear about Werdum's position in wanting to fight the Barnett vs. Browne winner or wait for Velasquez. A request for comment from a Werdum representative went unanswered at the time of publication.
A source close to the fighter told MMAWeekly.com two weeks ago that Werdum was “thinking about his options” and would make a decision by the following week. The Brazilian heavyweight was traveling at the time of the report, and is yet to make a public statement about the desire for his next fight.
Ask White, however, and he'll tell you that Werdum waiting out Velasquez's rehabilitation makes no sense. You just never know, the UFC executive said.
“He's gonna fight. We saw what happened with guys like Rashad [Evans] and other people, when you sit around and wait,” White explained. “He could get hurt again and you could be out two years or whatever. It just makes no sense.”
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