There’s no denying that Cain Velasquez’s long-awaited return to the cage went disastrously for the former heavyweight champ. But, he and Francis Ngannou disagree on what spoiled his return.
Velasquez returned to the Octagon for the first time since 2016 last night, in the headlining fight for UFC Phoenix against Francis Ngannou. Less than 30 seconds into the bout, as Velasquez changed levels, Ngannou appeared to score with an uppercut that put the former champ down awkwardly. The fight was stopped a second or two later and was declared a knockout win for Ngannou.
During the post-fight press conference, however, Velasquez claimed that what brought the fight to an end was his knee giving out, rather than any shots Ngannou landed (quote via MMA Fighting):
“It was just the knee, he didn’t even, like, touch me, you know?” Velasquez said. “It was just the knee, as soon as I felt the knee just buckle, it was like I couldn’t believe that happened. And then that was it.”
“Going in for his leg, I felt he kind of clubbed me on the back of the head, but that didn’t graze me at all,” Velasquez continued. “None of the punches grazed me at all or did anything to myself where I felt like I was unbalanced or anything. Just getting in on the inside and it was just a freak thing that happened with my knee.”
So, that’s Velasquez’s take on the fight’s final moments. But, not surprisingly, Ngannou has a different view. Here’s what the heavy-handed slugger had to say while speaking with the media.
“No, because the knee buckled after an uppercut on his chin,” Ngannou said. “You can look at the video about it, so you can find out and you will see the uppercut. That might be why his knee buckled, because he got disconnected.”
“In the fight, I couldn’t see that, but I watched the video and you guys can also watch the video,” Ngannou said. “So when the uppercut, that shot connected he just fell right way. I think that’s what hurt his knee.”
There you have it. So which was it? There’s a couple of camera angles which do appear to show Velasquez’s head moving back, as a result of an uppercut or some sort of physical clash. Could it be that Velasquez was so pumped with adrenaline he didn’t feel it landing? Or was it just a freak injury that occurred? Maybe more video evidence will provide some clearer answers.
All this aside, hopefully the injury isn’t too serious and Velasquez isn’t sidelined for very long.