Another weekend of fisticuffs has come and gone, as UFC on ESPN 1 blew the roof off Talking Stick Resort & Casino last Sunday night (Feb. 17, 2019) in Phoenix, Arizona. Plenty of fighters were left licking their wounds, including James Vick, who suffered his second straight defeat after coming up short against Paul Felder in the co-main event of the evening (highlights). And Renan Barao, who dropped his fourth straight loss after getting knocked out by Luke Sanders (see it again here).
But which fighter is suffering from the worst post-fight hangover, now a few hours removed from the show?
After more than 2.5 years away from the fight game, the man many considered the greatest Heavyweight of all time made his long-awaited return to action to headline UFC’s first event on big ESPN against Francis Ngannou. Facing “The Predator” is a tough task for anyone, especially for a combatant coming off such a long layoff.
And as quickly as the fight began, it was over, as “The Predator” knocked out the ex-265 pound champion in just 26 seconds after stuffing a takedown attempt and landing a short right uppercut that sent him crashing to the canvas. In the process, Velasquez’s knee seemed to give out, as he was visibly wincing in pain while the rock-solid Ngannou was pouring it on.
There’s not much controversy from this point of view, as Cain himself said the close and powerful shots from Ngannou were a concern and ultimately his demise. It wasn’t exactly the comeback Cain envisioned, who will now have to let the loss simmer for awhile before he can go back into the cage for redemption. It’s a tough loss on many levels, as he will now have to fight a bit harder to get back to title contention as his longtime training partner, Daniel Cormier, is close to handing over his title either with a loss in his final UFC fight or retirement.
Furthermore, this is the second time Cain has been tasked with ushering in UFC’s partnership with a network, only to get knocked out in record time on both occasions. Back in 2011, Velasquez faced Junior dos Santos in the main event of UFC on FOX 1, getting dismantled in under a minute, losing his 265-pound strap in the process.
Prior to his fight against Ngannou, Cain did tease retirement if his comeback attempt didn’t go as planned, which now leads many to wonder whether or not he will follow up with those words given the disastrous outcome. Personally, I don’t believe Velasquez will call it a career, especially after inking a new four-fight UFC deal.
As for what could be next for Cain, I’d like to see him face off against Alistair Overeem. “The Reem” got back into the win column a few months ago by edging out Sergey Pavlovich at UFC Fight Night 141 in Beijing. It’s a fight I’ve personally wanted to see for a few years now, and though it’s a bit later than when I would’ve preferred, now is as good as time as any. Prior to defeating Sergey, Overeem was riding a two-fight losing streak, so it’s not like he’s on a roll and close to a shot at the strap.
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