After over two years on the sidelines, Cain Velasquez is ready to roll again.
Officials announced Wednesday that the former UFC heavyweight champion will fight for the first time since July 9, 2016, when he takes on Francis Ngannou in the main event of UFC on ESPN on Feb. 17 at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix. ESPN was first to report that the bout was in the works.
Velasquez (14-2) last fought at UFC 200, where he defeated Travis Browne via first-round TKO. That was just the two-time heavyweight titleholder’s second fight in the past five years as he has been riddled with various injuries. Velasquez, 36, has won five of his last six fights dating back to May 2012.
This past weekend, he had a message for Ngannou.
Ngannou is coming off of a much-needed win over Curtis Blaydes at UFC Beijing in November. He needed just 45 seconds to TKO Blaydes, which snapped a two-fight skid for the 32-year-old Cameroonian. Ngannou was coming off of a listless decision loss to Derrick Lewis and a failed bid to wrest the heavyweight title from then-champion Stipe Miocic at UFC 220.