Former UFC heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez is officially scheduled to return to the Octagon in the New Year. The heavyweight star is booked for a showdown with recent heavyweight title challenger Francis Ngannou, which will headline the UFC’s return to Phoenix on February 17.
While Cain Velasquez and Francis Ngannou are certain to fight each other with the ferocity of sworn enemies, it’s clear that there’s not actually any bad blood between them. In fact, the former champion Velasquez recently took to Twitter to let Ngannou know that his plane ticket to Phoenix is a Christmas present.
— Cain Velasquez (@cainmma) December 23, 2018
“Hey [Francis Ngannou] I got you a trip to Phoenix for Xmas,” Cain Velasquez said in English, before switching to French for Ngannou’s benefit. “Joyeux Noel!”
Cain Velasquez has not fought since UFC 200, in July of 2016, when he bludgeoned Travis Browne to a first-round TKO win. That being said, he is still widely considered one of the best heavyweights ever — if not the best outright.
Over the course of his illustrious career, he’s captured the UFC heavyweight title twice, and defeated stars like Junior dos Santos (twice), Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva (twice), Brock Lesnar, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Ben Rothwell and Cheick Kongo. The former champion is currently a strong 14-2 overall.
Francis Ngannou, meanwhile, recently bounced back from back-to-back decision losses to Derrick Lewis and Stipe Miocic with a first-round defeat of Curtis Blaydes. He’s 12-3 in sum.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 12/23/2018.