Cain Velasquez didn’t get the return to action he was hoping for. Instead, the heavyweight legend was stopped by the ferocious Francis Ngannou in the first 30 seconds of their UFC Phoenix fight — apparently injuring his knee in the process.
Post-fight, Cain Velasquez offered his complete disbelief with the way his knee quit on him. He says he felt completely healthy heading into the fight.
“I just can’t believe that happened,” he said at the post-fight press conference (via MMA Fighting). “Having a great camp coming in, truly, everything I said, how strongly I felt, that was all true. Coming in I felt great out there, relaxed, and then taking that one step I did with my left foot. I just felt something pop and then when I tried to take another step it just gave out on me. My knee gave out on me, I can’t even believe that happened.
“Going in 100 percent healthy. 100 percent ready and just to have this freak accident, I can’t even believe it. It’s just hard. That’s sports, that’s what we do. That’s what happens sometimes. It’s just really frustrating because the fire in me is strong, stronger than ever. In camp, great camp, great camp. And then this happens.”
Cain Velasquez also added that none of the punches Ngannou landed really hurt him. In his eyes, it was his knee that caused the end of the fight.
“It was just the knee, he didn’t even, like, touch me, you know?” Velasquez said. “It was just the knee, as soon as I felt the knee just buckle, it was like I couldn’t believe that happened. And then that was it.
“Going in for his leg, I felt he kind of clubbed me on the back of the head, but that didn’t graze me at all,” Velasquez continued. “None of the punches grazed me at all or did anything to myself where I felt like I was unbalanced or anything. Just getting in on the inside and it was just a freak thing that happened with my knee.”
Despite this unfortunate twist, Cain Velasquez does not blame anyone but himself for the way things unfolded. He agrees with the referee’s choice to stop the fight, and says he has lots of respect for Francis Ngannou.
“It was okay because the ref saw my knee buckle.” Velasquez said. “The ref saw my knee buckle. His job is to make sure we’re 100 percent safe and he did that. Even for me, just to process what happened in that moment, even afterwards — the ref did the right job, he did the correct job tonight.
“I have a lot of respect for [Ngannou] — I have a lot of respect for a lot of fighters, that’s just how I am — Before the fight, a lot of respect, but I’m there to kill him,” Velasquez concluded. “After the fight, a lot of respect, especially for him as a man, as a competitor.
“I beat myself tonight.”
What do you think the future holds for Cain Velasquez after this tough loss?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 2/17/2019.