Cain Velasquez vs. Francis Ngannou Expected to Headline First UFC on ESPN Card in February

Former heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez will return for the first time in more than two years when he takes on Francis Ngannou in the main event at the inaugural UFC on ESPN card on Feb. 17 in Phoenix.

Former heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez will return for the first time in more than two years when he takes on Francis Ngannou in the main event at the inaugural UFC on ESPN card on Feb. 17 in Phoenix.

UFC president Dana White confirmed the news to ESPN on Friday.

It’s been a long road back for Velasquez, who has been widely considered one of the most talented heavyweights of all time but unfortunately injuries have robbed him of years of his career.

The last time Velasquez fought was at UFC 200 back in 2016 when he made short work of Travis Browne with a first round TKO.

Injuries have kept him sidelined since then but now he appears ready to return while headlining the first UFC on ESPN card nearly eight years after he also served as one half of the main event for the debut UFC card on FOX in 2011.

This time around, Velasquez faces ferocious knockout artist Francis Ngannou, who is fresh off a stunning first round finish against Curtis Blaydes in November.

Ngannou has widely been considered the future of the division but he suffered through a pair of tough losses this year including a five round drubbing at the hands of former champion Stipe Miocic.

With the win over Blaydes in November, Ngannou got back on track and now he’ll attempt to put himself back into that title talk conversation if he can get past Velasquez in February.

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Damon Martin is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the industry since 2003 with bylines on FOX Sports, CNN, Bleacher Report and numerous other outlets.
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