Suspension for ex-UFC champion Fabricio Werdum cut by 10 months

A former UFC heavyweight champion will return to the Octagon sooner than expected.

Fabricio Werdum's suspension by USADA, the UFC's anti-doping partner, has been reduced 10 months, the agency announced Thursday. Werdum is now eligible to compete April 1. Before this news, the heavyweight's eligibility date was Feb. 2, 2021.

Per the USADA release, Werdum provided the agency with "substantial assistance" in order to get his suspension cut. The "substantial assistance" clause in the UFC anti-doping policy allows athletes to get reduced bans if they assist USADA on other cases.

"Under the applicable rules, an athlete facing a period of ineligibility who provides information that leads to the discovery of another violation or which results in a criminal or disciplinary body discovering an offense, is eligible for a sanction reduction," the USADA release stated.

Werdum tested positive for the banned drug trenbolone and its metabolite epitrenbolone on April 25, 2018. He was suspended two years by USADA on May 22, 2018.

Werdum's suspension was then frozen when he left the USADA drug-testing pool, so the ban was extended to February 2021.

Werdum (23-8-1) held the UFC heavyweight title in 2015 and 2016. Known for his submission skills and a striking game that evolved late in his career, the Brazil native is considered one of the best heavyweight fighters in MMA history. Werdum, 42, fell in his most recent fight to Alexander Volkov by fourth-round knockout on March 17, 2018 at UFC London.