Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez will make his long-awaited return to action, as he is set to face Francis Ngannou at UFC on ESPN 1 on Feb. 17 from inside Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona.
It’s not exactly a warm-up fight for the ex-champion, who will be fighting for the first time in two and a half years, as “The Predator” has power in his hands to sleep a baby elephant...or a “Demolition Man.”
That’s why Cain’s trainer Javier Mendes is taking all precautions going into the fight, as he knows all it takes is one hit from Francis to put an end to the fight.
“Can Cain beat him? Absolutely. Can Cain maul him? Absolutely. But can Cain get knocked out by a guy that hits like a freakin’ train? Yes. So my job is to be very careful with a guy like that. We can’t deviate with him,” explained Mendes in an interview with MMA Fighting.
“He’s too strong, he hits way too hard, he’s really fast, and now it looks like he’s got his mojo back. For a while there, it looked like he was fighting himself. Maybe overconfident, under-confident. I think he went from overconfident to under-confident to now confident. I don’t think he’s overconfident now, I just think he’s confident. So I feel that we have the most dangerous [Ngannou] that anybody’s ever faced now, because I think he’s finally got it down. One shot changes everything,” he added.
Indeed, Cain knows all-too well how quickly things can change, as he was knocked out for the first time ever by Junior dos Santos at UFC on FOX 1 back in 2011 in the very first round. In an interesting twist, the two men were the headliners in what was the debut event for FOX.
Velasquez will look to avoid that this time around as he ushers in the UFC on ESPN era in his own backyard. For Ngannou, a win over Velasquez will be a huge feather in his cap and help him score back-to-back wins for the first time since 2017.