UFC president Dana White on Thursday made it crystal clear that his desire is for No. 1 heavyweight contender Fabricio Werdum to fight the winner of Saturday's UFC 168 bout between Josh Barnett and Travis Browne. Werdum, however, doesn't appear to have made up his mind yet.
His other option would be to roll the dice and sit on the sidelines for several months until UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez returns from shoulder surgery and then fight him for the title.
It's a risky proposition to sit idly by and wait for a champion's return. We've seen in the past where a fighter can end up facing additional setbacks when dealing with injuries. If the No. 1 contender opts to sit and wait, such setbacks keep the challenger on the sideline as well.
That's what White wants to avoid with Werdum.
“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.”
The UFC president believes that Werdum was made aware that the company would prefer he steps back into the Octagon instead of continuing to wait for Velasquez.
“We met with him a couple weeks ago,” White told reporters, following Thursday's UFC 168 pre-fight press conference. “I think he understood where we were on that thing and we wanted him to fight.”
Werdum hasn't fought since defeating Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in June, but a source close to the negotiations claims that the Brazilian hasn't yet made up his mind whether to fight the Barnett vs. Browne winner or continue to hold out for his title shot.
“We are negotiating… haven't decided yet,” the source told MMAWeekly.com.
Velasquez had surgery earlier this month, but he faces at least five to six months of rehabilitation before he can begin his return to the Octagon, which would put Werdum out of action for more than a year by the time they were to fight.