Former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez is back.
Velasquez is set to return to the Octagon on Feb. 17 against Francis Ngannou. The former champ was last seen at UFC 200 where he defeated Travis Browne by TKO in the first round. Despite this lengthy absence, he is once again on the hunt for the heavyweight belt.
While Velasquez was only recently booked for a comeback, his head coach at American Kickboxing Academy, Javier Mendez, says he’s been ready to fight for awhile now.
“He is ready to go, he has been ready to go,” Mendez said to BJPENN.com. “It has just been a matter of negotiations. Also, he just had a baby boy so he wanted to spend time with the family. It was a combination of negotiations and the family and now he is ready to go.”
Once Cain Velasquez was ready to fight, the only question left was who would welcome him back to the cage. That question was answered when the UFC announced he would return against former title challenger and fearsome knockout artist Ngannou.
Ngannou was last seen in action at UFC Beijing in November, when he stopped Curtis Blaydes in under a minute. This performance served to reiterate just how dangerous Ngannou can be.
“It is just an obvious thing,” Mendez said of Ngannou. “I don’t think there is anyone foolish enough to just stand with someone that strong. Look, when you have one strength, if your strength is not equal you wouldn’t use that, you would use the opposite. We are not equal to his strength, I don’t think there is someone who is equal —maybe Derrick Lewis. Ngannou is a very strong individual, he is a very dangerous fight. For me, Cain is the best in my opinion outside of ‘DC’ and him. Whoever Cain wants to fight he can fight. The most dangerous is Ngannou for Cain to fight.”
If Cain Velasquez is able to topple Francis Ngannou, Javier Mendez believes he could be next in line for a heavyweight title shot.
“I think he would, but to be honest you never know,” Mendez said. “A win against Ngannou would put him into a title shot or maybe one more fight away.”
For now, the focus is on Feb. 17 and fighting Ngannou. After that, the goal evolves for Mendez and American Kickboxing Academy.
“My goal is to get Cain his title back after [Daniel Cormier] vacates later this year,” Mendez said. “Once that is achieved I am onto the next one”
Do you think Cain Velasquez can beat Francis Ngannou this February?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 1/11/2019.