Cain Velasquez has long been regarded as one of the most talented heavyweights the game has ever seen, but injuries have prevented the fighter from enhancing his legacy. Well, now the former UFC champ’s reporting he’s recovered, recharged and ready to go, and that could mean big things for the heavyweight division.
Recently the UFC confirmed that Velasquez will return to the Octagon at the promotion’s February 17th card in Phoenix, for a bout with former title challenger Francis Ngannou. It’s a huge fight for Velasquez, not only because it will be his first bout since 2016, but if he wins, he’ll jump right back into the title shot mix.
Recently Velasquez spoke with the media ahead of his return, and here is some of what the 36-year-old had to say (quotes via MMA Junkie):
“…I love competing out here, being from Arizona. I’ve always wanted to fight here, as well. Just to have the opportunity to be here and fight in front of my family and friends, to me is just an amazing card to be a part of. I can’t wait for that night.”
“I’ve had some injuries throughout my career; I got that all squared away and all healed up, and I extended my family, as well,” Velasquez said. “We have a 1-year-old boy. I wanted to be there for the whole pregnancy, for the whole first year. It was kind of hard when we had our daughter. … There was a lot of stuff that I missed that I didn’t like missing. So with the time off, I just got to be with my family.
“There isn’t a lot of people who can take time off for two years, but I had that luxury, and I wanted to be there for my family, which to me was most important. I’m glad I did it. I love just having the time to be there for them.”
Now yes, long time MMA fans know we’ve heard Velasquez was ready to make another title run before, and ultimately, he was sidelined with more injuries. But, in this case, it does sound like Velasquez made a calculated decision to sit back, get healthy, and spend time with his family, rather than returning to the cage as soon as possible. In addition, this latest stint on the sidelines is the longest Velasquez has had since he was out from 2013 to 2015.
That aside, think about what it could mean for the heavyweight division if Velasquez does get by Ngannou next month? Since the latter is #3, a win for Velasquez would leave him knocking on the title shot door, which currently is answered by his buddy, Daniel Cormier. We know they won’t fight, so, things could get really interesting in the coming months if Velasquez can launch a successful comeback.
Could 2019 see Velasquez – Miocic? Velasquez – Blaydes? Possibly Velasquez – Lesnar 2?