The march towards UFC 200 has begun.
A big-time heavyweight tilt between former UFC champion Cain Velasquez and Travis Browne is in the works for July 9, sources close to the situation told MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani, who reported the news Wednesday on UFC Tonight.
The bout would mark a dramatic departure from the norm for Velasquez (13-2), a two-time heavyweight champion who has competed for the title in six of his seven UFC contests since late 2010.
Velasquez, 33, was expected to vie for the belt again this past February until a back injury forced the Mexican-American to withdraw from his rematch against UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum. The injury marked the latest in a long line of physical setbacks for Velasquez, and as a result, the UFC elected instead to award Velasquez's title shot to Stipe Miocic at UFC 198.
Regardless, Velasquez remains the No. 1 ranked heavyweight on the UFC's media-generated rankings.
A product of San Jose's American Kickboxing Academy, Velasquez captured the heavyweight title in 2010 with a victory over Brock Lesnar, then reclaimed it in 2012 with a dominant decision over Junior dos Santos. He went on to defend the belt twice, defeating Antonio Silva and dos Santos in a rubber match to tie the record for most consecutive title defenses in UFC heavyweight history.
Velasquez's second championship reign finally come to an end last year at UFC 188, when the former beltholder submitted to a third-round guillotine choke at the hands of Werdum in a long-awaited title unification bout.
Browne (18-3-1), on the other hand, looks to continue his momentum following a controversial victory over Matt Mitrione at UFC Fight Night 81.
Of late, the 33-year-old Browne has alternated wins and losses, sandwiching victories over Mitrione and Brendan Schaub between defeats at the hands of Andrei Arlovski and Werdum. He is currently the UFC's No. 7 ranked heavyweight.
UFC 200 takes place at the brand new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The show is expected to be one of the biggest UFC events in the promotion's history and is already confirmed to feature UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor.