When reigning Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight titleholder Cain Velasquez was forced to withdraw from the UFC 180 headliner after injuring himself while training, it was viewed by most as a crippling blow to the event. No fighter embodied the sentiment more than Fabricio Werdum, who was forced to wait even longer for a crack at the prize he covets most: the undisputed UFC heavyweight crown.
Ushered to the Octagon by Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitian’s “Cielito Lindo,” Werdum made the best of an unfortunate situation on Saturday at the Mexico City Arena in Mexico City, as he put away late replacement Mark Hunt with a leaping knee and follow-up punches to claim the interim heavyweight title. The two-time Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist brought it to a close 2:27 into the second round.
Hunt dropped the Brazilian twice, once in the first round and again in the second, with his brick fists, but the 2001 K-1 World Grand Prix winner was unable to follow Jesus Culture’s “Set a Fire” to a sensational knockout. Werdum was too determined. The Kings MMA representative cleared his head on multiple occasions and eventually parted Hunt’s defenses with a scorching knee to the jaw. The 40-year-old kiwi collapsed to the canvas, where he was met with hammerfists and punches from Werdum. On a five-fight tear, Werdum will now await Velasquez’s return.
Aerosmith’s “Dream On” brought reeling welterweight Jake Ellenberger into the arena to face “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 17 winner Kelvin Gastelum. With a little more than 10 seconds remaining in the first round of their co-main event, the undefeated Gastelum had “The Juggernaut” on the verge of not-so-sweet dreams with a crushing rear-naked choke. The submission came 4:46 into round one, as Ellenberger left the cage after a third straight defeat.
Though he can certainly be described as ambitious, Dennis Bermudez did not benefit from Wale’s “Ambition,” featuring Meek Mill and Rick Ross. “The Menace” was no match for Ricardo Lamas, as his seven-fight winning streak grinded to a halt inside the clutches of a guillotine choke. Lamas -- who entered the Octagon to Sonora Santanera’s “De Mexico a la Habana” -- is now 6-1 in the UFC, with the only loss coming in a unanimous decision to featherweight champion Jose Aldo.
The walkout music for UFC 180 “Werdum vs. Hunt” was expectedly loaded with Latin flavor, as the Ultimate Fighting Championship visited Mexico for the first time:
UFC 180 Walkout SongsMark Hunt: Jesus Culture “Set a Fire” | Live From New York (2012)
Fabricio Werdum: Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitian “Cielito Lindo” | 20 Diamantes (2014)
Kelvin Gastelum: Vincente Fernandez “El Palenque” | Arriba Huentitan (1972)
Jake Ellenberger: Aerosmith “Dream On” | Aerosmith (1973)
Dennis Bermudez: Wale feat. Meek Mill, Rick Ross “Ambition” | Ambition (2011)
Ricardo Lamas: Sonora Santanera “De Mexico a la Habana” | 15 Exitos (1991)
Chris Heatherly: Migos “Handsome and Wealthy” | No Label 2 (2014)
Augusto Montano: La Maldita “Un Gran Circo” | El Circo (1991)
Hector Urbina: Celso Pina “Cumbia Sobre el Rio” | Barrio Bravo (2001)
Edgar Garcia: Don Omar feat. Tego Calderon “Bandoleros” | Los Bandoleros (2005)
Gabriel Benitez: Tierra Santa “Mejor Morir En Pie” | Mejor Morir En Pie (2006)
Enrique Briones: David Guetta feat. Showtek, Vassy “Bad” | Listen (2014)
Marlon Vera: Chris Brown feat. Benny Benassi “Beautiful People” | F.A.M.E. (2011)
Marco Beltran: Control Machete “Asi Son Mis Dias” | Mucho Barato ... (1996)
Guido Cannetti: Carlos Gardel “Mi Buenos Aires Querido” | Mi Buenos Aires Querido Soundtrack (1936)
Mike Sloan is the president and co-owner of GrappleVegas.com.