On Sunday night in Phoenix, Velasquez returned to action for the first time in more than two years but his night was cut short after Francis Ngannou connected with a short right hand followed by his knees buckling under him that stopped the contest at just 26 seconds into the opening round.
It was a devastating end to a highly touted return to the cage as Velasquez has routinely been called one of the greatest heavyweight fighters of all time.
Cormier, who has trained alongside Velasquez since he first started transitioning to mixed martial arts from wrestling, was obviously upset for his teammate and friend following the loss.
“Just very disappointed,” Cormier said in reaction to how the fight ended. “I know how hard he trained. I know how well he prepared for this fight and for it to end the way it did was very unfortunate. It was very hard to watch. I wasn’t able to get to Phoenix and it’s sad. It makes me very sad that I’m not there right now and that he lost in this way.”
Cormier says there was no doubt in his mind that Velasquez was ready to go after a long training camp to prepare for Ngannou.
Velasquez has lost years of his career due to injuries but Cormier says that he was healthy and ready to fight ahead of his bout on Sunday night.
“I thought that he looked good. He was ready to fight. He looked good,” Cormier stated. “I thought he was ready to fight and I felt like he was ready to win this fight. You just cannot control some of the things that happen.
“He hurt his knee and also you’re fighting a big, powerful guy like Francis, there is no room for error.”
“I won’t go fight Francis Ngannou. I will beat Francis Ngannou” ~ Daniel Cormier
Immediately after the fight ended, Ngannou didn’t call for his next opponent but at the post fight press conference, he said that he wanted a title shot and hoped Cormier would come avenge his teammate’s defeat.
Cormier hasn’t committed to his next fight as he awaits his injured back to heal up first but he acknowledged that immediately after watching Velasquez fall there was a desire to face Ngannou.
That said, Cormier isn’t going to let emotion do the negotiating for him when it comes to his next fight as his time left in the sport is limited with plans to retire sooner rather than later.
“Every time you see something like that, the emotions tell you, you go get it back. You go make it right,” Cormier said. “But Francis Ngannou, he didn’t ask for a fight. Maybe later he will and if that’s something we decide we want to do, then that’s what I’ll do.
“I won’t go fight Francis Ngannou. I will beat Francis Ngannou.”
Cormier has hinted at a fight against former UFC champion and current WWE superstar Brock Lesnar as his next opponent but right now he’s just recovering from his back injury and will decide what’s next at a later date.
“I have an idea of what I want to do but for me right now it’s just more disappointed for him and his family,” Cormier said. “It’s not about me. It’s about Cain and him not getting the desired result.”