It's been a whirlwind week for former UFC champion Fabricio Werdum. Just a day after reportedly being booked for one of the biggest fights of his career, Vai Cavalo is instead now looking at a battle with the United States Anti-Doping Agency due to a flagged out-of-competition drug test.
The news was first reported by ESPN's Brett Okamoto:
It remains unclear for what Werdum has been flagged (which is standard USADA protocol). However, his manager, Ali Abdelaziz, issued the following statement on his behalf:
While this story is still developing, the timing couldn't have been worse.
On Monday, Ariel Helwani reported on The MMA Hour (h/t MMAFighting.com) that the Brazilian was reportedly set to face veteran grappler Alexei Oleinik in September at UFC Fight Night Moscow. At face value, the bout would be a critical one for the former champion—as Werdum would have been main eventing the UFC's first-ever trip to Russia—but it was also a strong opportunity for him to rebound from his loss to Alexander Volkov in March.
This potential anti-doping violation, however, could take the bout off the table and potentially jeopardizes his entire fighting future.
Failed drug tests can carry potentially huge penalties in the UFC's USADA era. Bantamweight Jimmie Rivera receiving a four-year suspension in January serves as a recent example.
Challenging a failed drug test, even if successful, can take an extended period of time, as was seen with former champion Josh Barnett, who was forcibly shelved for over a year before ultimately receiving no official suspension.
Already 40 years old and 16 years into his professional MMA career, Werdum potentially could see it ended by a lengthy suspension from USADA. While there is the possibility that he might receive a lighter punishment due to extenuating circumstances, the odds of an expedient resolution to his case are slim.
In the short-term, the UFC Fight Night Moscow main event will likely be rebooked (with Oleinik also probably to fall out of the top billing). In the long-term, there could be some tough times ahead for Werdum.