On Sunday evening, former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez will return from a hiatus of almost three years to battle brick-fisted knockout artist Francis Ngannou.
Speaking on the UFC Unfiltered podcast recently, Velasquez’s chief handler Javier Mendez explained what is motivating the former champion as he heads into this high-stakes showdown with Ngannou.
Apparently, it’s all about proving he can dominate the most dangerous opponents available.
“It’s the most dangerous fight for Cain,” Mendez said of Ngannou (transcript via MMA Weekly). “Of course we’ll never fight (Daniel Cormier), so outside of DC this is the next toughest challenge for Cain.”
“He’s stronger than he’s ever been. He hits pretty good. His speed is always good. His cardio is off the charts,” Mendez added. “His mentality is the number one thing. He wants it. He really wants to get back in the game and prove he can dominate again.”
Dominating, of course, is precisely what Cain Velasquez has done in the majority of his fights thus far. The former champ has picked up lopsided victories over Cheick Kongo, Ben Rothwell, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Brock Lesnar, Junior dos Santos (twice), Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva (twice) and Travis Browne.
Do you think he can add Francis Ngannou’s name to that list?
Cain Velasquez vs. Francis Ngannou will headline the UFC’s debut card on ESPN. Here’s what the rest of the UFC on ESPN 1 card looks like:
Main Card | 9:00 pm ET on ESPN
- Cain Velasquez vs. Francis Ngannou
- James Vick vs. Paul Felder
- Cortney Casey vs. Cynthia Calvillo
- Alex Caceres vs. Kron Gracie
- Vicente Luque vs. Bryan Barberena
- Andre Fili vs. Myles Jury
Preliminary Card | 7:00 pm ET on ESPN
- Aljamain Sterling vs. Jimmie Rivera
- Benito Lopez vs. Manny Bermudez
- Andrea Lee vs. Ashlee Evans-Smith
- Scott Holtzman vs. Nik Lentz
Early Prelims | 5:30pm ET on ESPN+
- Renan Barao vs. Luke Sanders
- Jessica Penne vs. Jodie Esquibel
- Aleksandra Albu vs. Emily Whitmire
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 2/17/2019.