Cain Velasquez makes his much anticipated return this Sunday on ESPN’s inaugural Ultimate Fighting Championship card when he takes on the heavy hitting Francis-Ngannou in a fight that could well determine the division’s No. 1 contender.
Velasquez is looking to regain the heavyweight belt he lost against Fabricio Werdum back at UFC 188 in June 2015 in a fight where the former champ looked exhausted in the high altitude of Mexico City.
The 36-year-old is considered by many to be one of the best heavyweights to have ever competed in MMA and despite his limited activity in recent years due to injury; many fans believe he is still capable of holding the belt once again.
In an interview with Yahoo Sports, Velasquez talked about his long road to recovery and the pain he endured because of his injuries:
“When I had the injury, it was something that was extremely hard to deal with, to live with,” Velasquez said. “I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. When it was at its worst, it was bad. It’s something I’d say was the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through physically. Just standing for 15 minutes is probably the worst pain I’ve ever gone through,” he said.
The fiercely competitive Velasquez faces off against possibly the most powerful striker in the division in Ngannou and said if he can’t return at the same level he was at before his injuries then he won’t continue in the sport.
“The reason I do this is to be the No. 1 guy,” Velasquez said. “And if I’m not as competitive as I was before, then I’m not doing it. But I also believe that I am that same guy. I’ve improved a lot and right now, I feel stronger than ever, stronger than in the past. Obviously in that fight against Travis Browne, I am stronger than that. My body feels better than I did then with the time off I’ve taken.
“I just have a lot of confidence to go out and win this fight,” Velasquez said. “I expect to go out and compete at a high level. If I can’t do that, then I’m not going to do this anymore.
“But the way I feel now, I feel great and feel like I can keep going for quite a while more.”