Cain Velasquez’s absence away from the sport wasn’t just hard for the MMA community to deal with. It turns out that it was hard on one of the baddest men to ever walk the planet, Cain Velasquez, as well. Fortunately, the pain of a UFC without an active Cain Velasquez will come to a close this Sunday when the former UFC champion makes his return to face Francis Ngannou in the main event of UFC Phoenix airing live on ESPN. Although Velasquez will look to inflict pain directly on his opponent this Sunday, he still has not forgotten the pangs from the sideline:
“When I had the injury, it was something that was extremely hard to deal with, to live with,” Velasquez said in an interview with Yahoo Sports. “I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. When it was at its worst, it was bad. It’s something I’d say was the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through physically.”
“Just standing for 15 minutes is probably the worst pain I’ve ever gone through,” he said.
Though many fans expect the former champion to stand much fewer than 15 minutes come Sunday night, Cain Velasquez is now prepared to stand for the full 25 minutes during the UFC Phoenix main event. After all, that is what a champion must be prepared to do every time out. And it is that identity of “champion” and being the best at what he does that drives Velasquez every day and has led to his inevitable return:
“The reason I do this is to be the No. 1 guy,” Velasquez said. “And if I’m not as competitive as I was before, then I’m not doing it. But I also believe that I am that same guy. I’ve improved a lot and right now, I feel stronger than ever, stronger than in the past. Obviously in that fight against Travis Browne, I am stronger than that. My body feels better than I did then with the time off I’ve taken.
But in a statement that will make fans of Cain Velasquez root even harder for this comeback story is the dreadful proclamation from Velasquez that if he winds up unsatisfied with his performance against Ngannou Sunday night, then he will officially do what many had prematurely believed he’d already one: hang up his gloves for good:
“I just have a lot of confidence to go out and win this fight,” Velasquez said. “I expect to go out and compete at a high-level. If I can’t do that, then I’m not going to do this any more.
“But the way I feel now, I feel great and feel like I can keep going for quite a while more.”
Do you believe Cain Velasquez would retire if he loses to Francis Ngannou at UFC Phoenix?