It’s been two-and-half years since injury-plagued former heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez last set foot in the Octagon, but a comeback against Francis Ngannou is looming at UFC On ESPN 1 in February and he feels he’s finally back to where he was health wise when he was in his prime.
“I feel like I did [when I was younger],” Velasquez told MMAfighting.com. “I do. Obviously things are changing — and as far as that, it’s like, I have to be smarter when I train because I could definitely overtrain at any moment. That’s just what I do. But I still definitely do feel the same. I feel like the time off that I’ve had, I’ve been able to work on some stuff that I really can’t when you’re in fight training, because you’re obviously training for a specific guy, just for a specific style. But to not have anything on the books and to be training just kinda the stuff that you want to train, different techniques and stuff, it was great time off.”
Velasquez’s long-time coach Javier Mendez agrees with that assessment and believes the star is now on the path to reclaiming the title.
“He’s gotten smarter in training,” Mendez said. “He knows when to back off now. His time off has actually helped him, his body heal, and he’s quick like always. He hits a little harder and he’s motivated more than ever. He’s watched everybody else come onboard, and realistically I think he’s come back to regain what he always knew was his. And once DC’s done, which will be hopefully this year, then Cain will take over. That’s what I’m looking at.”