This Sunday, in Phoenix, Arizona, former UFC heavyweight title challenger Francis Ngannou will face the monumental task of welcoming former champion Cain Velasquez back to the cage. The bout will serve as the headliner of the UFC’s first-ever card on ESPN.
Heading into this fight, each fighter seems to have a clear set of advantages. Ngannou is believed to posses a major advantage in the power department (it’s been said that he hits as hard as a Ford Escort, though Velasquez doesn’t seem worried). Cain Velasquez, on the other hand, seems like a clear frontrunner in the wrestling department.
Speaking to MMAjunkie this week, the fearsome puncher Ngannou addressed Velasquez’s perceived wrestling advantage and assured he will be well prepared for it.
That said, he refused to shine too much light on his gameplan for this fight, stating only that he believes we’ll see Velasquez in vintage form in the cage.
“I’ve been well prepared,” Ngannou told MMA Junkie when asked about the wrestling skill of Velasquez. “You want me to tell you the gameplay? No. I think we are going to have the same Cain. He still has the experience. He stopped the fight his last fight, he ended up with a win, so he’s still got his confidence.”
In his last fight, Francis Ngannou dispatched another high level wrestler in the streaking Curtis Blaydes, who he put down with a first-round punch. That being said, the Cameroonian-French heavyweight’s next most recent fights were worrying for his fans, as he was first soundly outfought by then champion Stipe Miocic — a strong wrestler in his own right — and then defeated by Derrick Lewis in a contest that ranks among the most disappointing in UFC history.
Velasquez, meanwhile, has not fought since July of 2016, when he defeated Travis Browne by first-round TKO, flaunting not just his wrestling but his ever-improving standup. In his next most recent fight, he surrendered the UFC heavyweight title to Fabricio Werdum.
Who do you think will come out on top when the cage door closes on Cain Velasquez and Francis Ngannou this Sunday?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 2/14/2019.