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What Cain Velasquez' return before Cormier's retirement means for the UFC Heavyweight Divison

348   //    10 Jan 2019, 20:59 IST

Is there more to his return than it appears at first?
Is there more to his return than it appears at first?

Cain Velasquez. The name itself sends shivers through the Heavyweights of the Ultimate Fighting Championship's 206-to-265-pound division. Although it consists of some of the best fighters in the world, none are prepared when Velasquez makes his returns to the Octagon, as infrequent as they are nowadays.

30 months ago, Cain Velasquez was last seen by the masses of UFC fans, when they observed him put a stop to Travis Browne's attempts at fighting by destroying him slowly, but surely. It was methodical, but for all the method, it was instilled with a sense of animal brutality that the cage rarely sees.

Cain Velasquez disposed of Travis Browne brutally
Cain Velasquez disposed of Travis Browne brutally

However. as soon as he was done taking apart his opposition, he took a step back and disappeared once again. This time, he was in trouble as he needed to deal with bone spurs on his back, which would not allow him to actively compete in the Octagon.

But, now he is back. Is it a coincidence that he has returned? Was this a random time that Velasquez chose to come back to the Ultimate Fighting Championship? Or was this too a methodically plotted move with extremely good reasons actually behind his return?

It appears to be the latter.

Cain Velasquez has been booked to take part in a fight against another heavyweight, Francis Ngannou. The two fighters are set to face each other in the upcoming UFC on ESPN 1 event. It will be the first official ESPN event since UFC began their deal with them at the beginning of the year.

Ngannou comes into this bout on the back of a big win. He had lost a fight against Stipe Miocic at the beginning of 2018 which had stopped his undefeated streak short. His stock had only fallen further, when he had gone on to face the likes of Derrick Lewis, and the two of them had put on a hesitant, slow, and unappealing performance which had been criticised by both the critics and the fans.

Francis Ngannou defeated his last opponent Curtis Blaydes in moments
Francis Ngannou defeated his last opponent Curtis Blaydes in moments

Thankfully, his win came in the very next fight, thereby not allowing his descent into the depths of losses to continue. He defeated Curtis Blaydes in the very first minute of their fight, bouncing back from his previous two fights with aplomb.

However, facing Cain Velasquez, he may just be in over his head. Coach Mendez of Velasquez' team certainly appears to think so telling Ngannou that the bad news is that he is facing Velasquez and he does not stand a chance.

Here's where the timings seem altogether a little too perfect to be coincidental.

The fight takes place in February on the 17th, which is just around a month before Daniel Cormier promised to retire from the business.

If Cormier does retire on the 20th of March as planned with the UFC Heavyweight Championship, then the title will become vacant.

This will put the title up for grabs with two men in prime position to challenge for the title.

One of those men was the previous Heavyweight Champion who never got a rematch for the title he lost -- Stipe Miocic.

Stipe Miocic did not do too well when he last faced Daniel Cormier
Stipe Miocic did not do too well when he last faced Daniel Cormier

The other man would be the winner of the fight between Cain Velasquez and Francis Ngannou. With that in mind, this is the perfect opportunity for Velasquez to put himself in contention for the title by beating Ngannou.

If he is able to achieve this, he might just be the next challenger for the title. This is a thought that would not have escaped the notice of the experienced heavyweight.

Only one man now stands between him and this opportunity -- Francis Ngannou.

Thus, the fight between the two will be the best measure of how good a fighter Ngannou truly is. How capable is he of holding of a Velasquez aiming for a run at the Championship? We will have to wait and see.