Daniel Cormier spoke to Ariel Helwani recently about his training partner Cain Velasquez’s progress in training and how he hopes to have a long UFC run before he retires.
I think it’s fair to say that after something of a patchy period, the UFC’s heavyweight division has just become a whole lot more interesting.
UFC 218 saw the emergence of Francis Ngannou as one of the scariest knockout artists in the sport today. The manner in which he finished the legendary Alistair Overeem sent a chill down the spine of the MMA world that had people talking about the division in a way that we had perhaps not seen in some time.
The champ Stipe Miocic is just one win away from becoming the very first heavyweight to defend the belt on three separate occasions but to do so, he will have to defeat the one man – in Ngannou – who could well represent the next generation of MMA heavyweights, something that the division has needed for quite a while.
UFC 220 will be the show that these two forces collide but in a recent interview with MMAFighting, the night’s co-main event headliner and UFC light-heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier gave us an update on the progress of his training partner Cain Velasquez, one that is certain to make the landscape at 265lbs even more intriguing as we move into 2018.
Velasquez has been cited as one of the greatest to ever fight in the weight-class and over the course of his UFC run, managed to use his ridiculous cardio, relentless pressure and smothering grappling to dismantle some of the very best the promotion has placed him up against.
Injuries, however, have hindered his progress and despite facing off against Travis Browne in what was a dominant performance at UFC 200, once again he was sidelined and now, almost a year and a half on, is still without a fixed return date.
“He’s had a lot of injuries at bad times. I talked to Cain about this and it sucks. For a guy who was talented and committed to the sport, he’s probably lost five years.
“Can you imagine what Cain Velasquez’s resume would look like without five years worth of time on the shelf? It’s so sad to think about, but I believe that he has finally gotten himself in a position where his body is going to be able to match his work ethic, his mind, his ferociousness, his mentality, everything, and allow him to go on a run, a long, sustained run, to kinda finish out his career.
“He’s back to training, and it hurts, but it nothing’s felt better for a long time. It does suck to have to go in there and work with Cain, because he’s so much better than everybody else that’s ever been around, but it’s good to have him, man.
“Just seeing him back doing what he loves to do, it’s amazing as a friend and as a fan of mixed martial arts, because if Cain gets back, you guys know what he does for the heavyweight division. He makes for some very, very interesting and fun fights.”
There has been something of a drought within the heavyweight ranks in recent times as many of the top-contenders find themselves edging closer to retirement but despite the clear toll that has been taken on Cain’s body over the years, a successful return to his prior form could well see things pick up, especially with such a blockbuster main-event to look forward to at UFC 220.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena