There have been few, if any MMA stars whose careers have been more hampered by injury than that of Cain Velasquez. The former heavyweight champion has competed on just two occassions in the past three years, and has not been seen since putting the boots to Travis Browne at UFC 200 last July.
After having his fight license suspended just days prior to UFC 207 due to a nasty-sounding back injury, however, it's looking like Velasquez's chances of returning to the Octagon are growing slimmer and slimmer by the day. That's according to his coach, Javier Mendez, at least, who told Submission Radio that we shouldn't expect to see Velazquez in the Octagon anytime soon.
"I don't see him fighting," said Mendez.
He’s been more enjoying time with his wife and he did an AirBnb, those rentals that you rent. He’s got one in Arizona that he’s fixing up to rent, so he’s been doing that and spending time with his wife and his child. He’s been doing more family stuff. He comes in the gym on a rare occasion, but he’s slowly coming back into it. He’s not jumping on board to do anything, he’s just taking his time. I know that May 11 is something they’re looking at, but realistically Cain is not gonna fight on short notice. He’s not gonna fight without an eight-week training camp. So I look at it like if he’s hardly ever coming into the gym now because he has other business things he has to take care of, I don’t see him fighting (soon).
Somewhat conversely, Mendez said that we could expect to see Velasquez competing at some point this summer, but it would all depend on "the UFC and [Cain's] managers." As for who he might face, well he's got a few options:
- Fabricio Werdum: It was Werdum, after all, who Velasquez was scheduled to face at UFC 207 before medical issues pulled him from the card. Considering that Werdum was also the man to dethrone Velasquez in his infamous "Sea Level Cain" fight at UFC 188, one would have to imagine that the former champ would be to desperate to get that fight back.
- Ben Rothwell: Though he defeated "Big Ben" handily when they first collided way back in 2009, it was Rothwell who raked Velasquez over the coals following his withdrawal from UFC 207, claiming that Velasquez "needed [NSAC] to pull him out of the fight." I have no doubts that Velasquez would jump at the chance to shut up one of his doubters, though Rothwell's recent USADA bust might complicate things.
- Francis Ngannou: The Cameroonian KO artist called out Velazquez following his big win over Andrei Arlovski at UFC Denver, and would be a perfect opponent for Cain to once again establish himself as a major threat in the heavyweight division.