The last time Cain Velasquez stepped in the cage was July 2016 when he destroyed Travis Browne at UFC 200. Since then, Velasquez has been sidelined with numerous injuries, to the point that fans questioned if he would ever return. But on Sunday, the former two-time UFC heavyweight champion will return to the UFC after his 30-month absence, and he comes back to a very different heavyweight division.
While Velasquez has been out, his teammate Daniel Cormier has cemented his legacy in MMA, becoming only the second double champion in UFC history when he won the heavyweight belt by knocking out Stipe Miocic in one round at UFC 226. Cormier then became the first man to ever defend UFC belts in multiple weight classes when he submitted Derrick Lewis at UFC 230 just a few months later.
Cormier does not have much time left in the sport though. “DC” has previously said that he intended to retire by March but just this week announced he would put off that timeline as he recovers from some lingering injuries. And when Cormier finally does step away, Velasquez is ready to take on anyone to reclaim the heavyweight title.
“[I will fight] anyone,” Velasquez told TMZ Sports recently. “That’s why I’m in this sport: to fight the best guys, to be the best out there. To me, go out there and perform and win and take on the best guys.”
Among those guys considered to be the best in the sport is Jon Jones. Jones, Cormier’s longtime rival, is the only man to have ever beaten the heavyweight champion in MMA. And while at this point, it seems unlikely Jones and Cormier will ever square off again, Velasquez believes he can avenge his teammate’s loss to “Bones”.
“I think I could,” Velasquez said. “I think I’m good enough. Jon Jones is an amazing athlete. I’ve watched him in all his fights, I know what he’s capable of. Again, every guy poses a great challenge and I think he does as well but I think I can beat him.”
First Velasquez has to worry about this weekend though as the former heavyweight champion takes on third-ranked Francis Ngannou in the main event of UFC Phoenix.
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SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level— Dillon Danis (@dillondanis) February 12, 2019
of our training. pic.twitter.com/LX6OTjGa1z
Are you telling us this is what happened to Conor? https://t.co/uWqEaAuG69— Ben Askren (@Benaskren) February 12, 2019
Henry with maximum cringe.
Nikki @bellatwins Roses are Red,@wwedanielbryan is turning blue,— Henry Cejudo (@HenryCejudo) February 12, 2019
Becuz I got the Real Championship GOLD,
And I have a loaded question 4 u
I am trying to rebrand single awareness day , what are your plans on February 14th?
This is true. He’s also lost four of his last five.
I have now fought 11 fights against top 5 ranked opponents in a row. I haven’t won them all but in my losses they were all competitive and very winnable fights for me. I love this game and excited about the future.— Chris Weidman (@chrisweidman) February 12, 2019
I hope you’re there to fight for money. Belts don’t pay bills.
It's sad that after 13 fights in the @ufc against mainly top contenders, people still have the nerve to think I'm here to fight for money. My goal has always been to fight the best, win the belt, and be the belt since day 1... my goals haven't changed. #ufc235 #stillkickin #goals— Corey Anderson UFC (@CoreyA_MMA) February 12, 2019
See, they get it.
Your hand is fine you pussy you never even hit me with it?!? Making excuses about not performing because u know! I'd rematch u in Brazil and finish u next time. And I felt a bit sorry for u limping in the back so I left u alone .— Ryan Scope (@ryanscope1) February 12, 2019
boring— Ryan Scope (@ryanscope1) February 12, 2019
TODAY IN MMA HISTORY
2008: Carlos Condit successfully defended his welterweight title with a first round guillotine choke of Carlo Prater at WEC: New Mexico. In the co-main event, Jamie Varner won the lightweight title by stopping Rob McCullough with strikes in the third round and elsewhere on the card, Miguel Torres claimed the bantamweight crown by submitting Chase Beebe with a guillotine choke in the first round.
Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.
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