A blockbuster MMA showdown is in the works for UFC on ESPN 1 as Cain Velasquez is targeted to make his long-awaited return to UFC competition, as he is expected to headline the card opposite Francis Ngannou. Sources close to MMA News have confirmed the initial report from ESPN, with the bout close to being finalized. UFC on ESPN 1 takes place February 17th from the Talking Stick Resort & Casino in Phoenix, Arizona.
It may feel like it’s been 84 years since we last saw Cain Velasquez in action, but it’s actually been only two and a half. We last saw Cain Velasquez compete at the landmark UFC 200 event, where Velasquez earned the dominant first-round TKO over Travis Browne. Cain Velasquez is a two-time UFC heavyweight champion and some consider him to be the greatest talent to ever compete at heavyweight anywhere in the world, including current UFC heavyweight champion and training partner Daniel Cormier.
Following two lackluster performances in a row, first a one-sided loss to Stipe Miocic at UFC 220 followed by three rounds of inactivity against Derrick Lewis at UFC 226, Francis Ngannou told the world verbally and through his actions “I’m back” when he picked up the first-round TKO over Curtis Blaydes at UFC Fight Night 141 in November. #6-ranked Francis Ngannou remains arguably the scariest opponent on the feet in the heavyweight division and he presents a unique challenge to anybody on the roster, including the legendary Cain Velasquez.
If this bout is finalized, the UFC on ESPN 1 card lineup includes:
Francis Ngannou vs. Cain Velasquez
Jimmie Rivera vs. Aljamain Sterling
Paul Felder vs. James Vick
Cynthia Calvillo vs. Cortney Casey
Andre Fili vs. Myles Jury
Alexandra Albu vs. Emily Whitmire
Ashlee Evans-Smith vs. Lauren Murphy
Jodie Esquibel vs. Jessica Penne
Manny Bermudez vs. Benito Lopez
Alex Caceres vs. Kron Gracie
Scott Holtzman vs. Nik Lentz
How do you envision a Cain Velasquez vs. Francis Ngannou bout playing out?