Judging from pictures posted on his social media, Cain Velasquez looks as though he is nearing a return to the Octagon. We haven’t seen the former UFC heavyweight champion since he beat Travis Browne in one round at UFC 200 in July of 2016, a nearly 2-year absence from the sport. A series of injuries have kept Velasquez away and at 35, there must be a serious doubt that the injuries and the subsequent lay off have robbed us of seeing what the ex-champion could really have achieved in the sport, much of his prime has already been lost, maybe forever.
So time will tell what version we will see of Velasquez when he makes his expected return later this year. Velasquez has only recently been removed from the UFC heavyweight rankings, and despite the relatively thin talent pool in the division, it will not be a straightforward journey back to the title for Velasquez.
Stipe Miocic the current champion faces the UFC light heavyweight champion and teammate of Velasquez, Daniel Cormier at UFC 226. Miocic is slightly favoured to win, obviously a Cormier win could complicate matters for Velasquez, but personally, a win for Cormier could signal the perfect opportunity for Cormier to leave the sport on a high. A Miocic v Velasquez fight would be most observers choice for the next fight for Miocic if of course, Miocic beats Cormier in their champion v champion fight in July.
But Velasquez needs a tune-up fight first for several reasons, and he faces a largely new crop of talent.
Alexander Volkov fresh from a big win over Werdum would be an ideal first fight back for Velasquez, as would the winner out of Curtis Blaydes and Alistair Overeem, they meet in June at UFC 225. All the fighters mentioned you would favour Velasquez to win if he could return to what he was before, but there must be a doubt that will happen.
Despite his recent loss Francis Ngannou is still the potential future star of the division, as I commented on at the time, one loss shouldn’t mean we count the big man out. He’s admitted his mistakes in his preparation and he will learn and will come again, he is a danger to anyone in the division.
I hope we see a fully rested and healed Velasquez when he does eventually return, he has achieved plenty despite his layoffs, the heavyweight division badly needs him back.
LATEST UFC HEAVYWEIGHT RANKINGS:
1 Francis Ngannou 11-2-0
2 Alistair Overeem 43-16-0
3 Alexander Volkov 30-6-0
4 Curtis Blaydes 9-1-0
5 Fabricio Werdum 23-8-1
6 Mark Hunt 13-12-1
6 Derrick Lewis 19-5-0
8 Marcin Tybura 16-4-0
9 Andrei Arlovski 27-15-0
10 Aleksei Oleinik 52-11-1
11 Stefan Struve 32-10-0
12 Shamil Abdurakhimov 18-4-0
13 Tai Tuivasa 9-0-0
14 Junior Albini 14-3-0
15 Justin Ledet 9-0-0