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Cain Velasquez vs. Francis Ngannou targeted for UFC on ESPN main event in Phoenix

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Former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez could be coming back in February 2019.

UFC 200: Tate v Nunes Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Welcome back to the UFC, Cain Velasquez?

It’s not official just yet, but ESPN’s Ariel Helwani reports that the former UFC heavyweight champion is being lined up for a return to the Octagon against Francis Ngannou. The fight would headline the promotion’s first ESPN main card on February 17th in Phoenix, Arizona.

The 36-year-old Velasquez (14-2) has had an injury-plagued career, and he’s not fought since knocking out Travis Browne at UFC 200 in July 2016. He lost the heavyweight title to Fabricio Werdum by guillotine choke in June 2015, having been out of action for 20 months after TKOing Junior dos Santos in their trilogy matchup. If he does fight in Arizona, it’ll be a virtual home fight for the former collegiate wrestling standout out of Arizona State.

Ngannou (12-3) entered 2018 as a heavyweight sensation, most notably knocking out Alistair Overeem to earn himself a title shot against then-champion Stipe Miocic. He lost in one-sided fashion to Miocic at UFC 220, then turned in a truly awful, tepid showing in a decision loss to Derrick Lewis at UFC 226. The Frenchman by way of Cameroon got back on track with a 45-second TKO of Curtis Blaydes in the UFC Beijing main event last month.

UFC Phoenix also features a rescheduled lightweight bout between James Vick and Paul Felder, as well as a key bantamweight matchup between Jimmie Rivera and Aljamain Sterling.