Cain Velasquez is scheduled to return to the octagon.
Brett Okamoto of ESPN reported that Dana White confirmed earlier reports of a heavyweight battle between Velasquez and Francis Ngannou. This fight is expected to headline the UFC Fight Night event on February 17 in Phoenix.
Velasquez has been away from competition since July 2016 due to several injuries. On that night at UFC 200, Velasquez defeated Travis Browne by first-round KO/TKO. That victory marked Velasquez’s return to form after he lost the UFC Heavyweight Championship to Fabricio Werdum via guillotine choke in the second round in June 2015 at UFC 188. Werdum’s victory was considered a significant upset at the time mostly because of Velasquez’s sustained dominance in the division.
The former heavyweight champion’s absence from the division seemingly opened the door for teammate Daniel Cormier to move up to the heavyweight division and ultimately become a two-division champion in the UFC.
In front of him when he returns is Francis Ngannou, who recently rebounded with a spectacular first-round finish of Curtis Blaydes in Beijing, China, in November. Ngannou’s two-fight skid saw him overwhelmed by Stipe Miocic at UFC 220 and then his part of what turned out to be a disappointing three-round contest with Derrick Lewis at UFC 226.
With Ngannou’s recent win over highly-rated contender Curtis Blaydes and Velasquez’s prior work to cement himself as one of the greatest heavyweights of all-time, this sure looks to be a fight that leads to title implications in the near future.