In Feb. 2019, Velasquez headlined the first-ever main card on linear ESPN cable, and once again, things went south fast. Velasquez’s left knee gave out in the middle of a Francis Ngannou flurry, leading to an Ngannou knockout victory over the two-time former UFC heavyweight titleholder in just 26 seconds at UFC Phoenix on Sunday night.
“I was super ready for this fight, I came in her super calm and relaxed,” Velaquez said. “This is why this sport is so great, you never know what could happen at what time. I wish I could give you guys more. I’m sorry for this.”
Ngannou has been on something of an image rehab tour since losing back-to-back fights to Stipe Miocic and Derrick Lewis in 2018, and this goes down as the biggest name Ngannou has defeated. There was no one shot which finished things off as Velasquez’s leg buckled and gave out in Ngannou’s onslaught, just a wild flurry of heavy hands that caused the bout to get waved off fast.
“I’m back,” Ngannou told the fans at Talking Stick Resort Arena. “Like I said before, I’m back. you’re going to see me come around again. Thank you.”
With his second consecutive victory, Ngannou improved to 13-3. He’s 8-2 in the UFC, with all eight wins coming by way of finish, and each of his past six coming in the first round.
For Velasquez, the loss was another downer in a career which has seen tremendous highs in winning two titles, but also a litany of injuries. The bout was has first for the 36-year-old former Arizona State wrestler in two-and-a-half years.