Francis Ngannou vs Cain Velasquez: Predictions, Betting Tips, Odds & Statistics
Cain Velasquez is back in the Octagon after almost three years out, as the former UFC heavyweight champion takes on destructive striker Francis Ngannou in the late hours of Sunday.
Tale of the tape
|76 in||Height||73 in|
|250 lbs||Weight||240 lbs|
|83 in||Reach||77 in|
Predictions & Betting Tips
UFC favourite Cain Velasquez has been out of action since July 2016, and makes a welcome return to the heavyweight division in Arizona. The two-time champion hasn’t picked an easy fight for his comeback, as he comes up against the hugely dangerous Francis Ngannou.
Velasquez put on a masterclass the last time he stepped in the Octagon, blitzing Travis Browne and winning by TKO in the final moments of the very first round. He was scheduled for a rematch with Fabricio Werdum at UFC 207 in December 2016, but injury kept him out.
The Arizona native had surgery on bone spurs and also spent time away from the Octagon to spend time with his family, but now he’s back and looking to reestablish himself in the heavyweight ranks.
Velasquez may need every stitch of his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt against Ngannou. We could see the veteran attempt an early takedown in this fight, in the face of Ngannou’s incredible punching power.
Striking will still be important though, as Velasquez showed when he reclaimed the heavyweight title in avenging his loss to Junior dos Santos, becoming the first fighter in UFC history to reach triple figures in significant strikes and double figures in takedowns in the same fight.
Indeed, Velasquez was well on the way to staking a claim as the best heavyweight in the history of the UFC before injuries took their hold. He won 10 of his 12 fights between 2008 and 2013, with nine coming via knockout. He was undefeated before injury problems set in, and suffered his first loss to Dos Santos while suffering from a shoulder issue.
Since 2013, the 36-year-old has only fought twice, with a defeat to Werdum coming 13 months before his convincing victory over Browne, so ring rust could certainly be an issue this week. If someone as fit as the legendary Georges St-Pierre is apprehensive of it ahead of a period of inactivity, Velasquez and Ngannou will be well aware of it too.
That can only play into Ngannou’s hands, particularly as the Predator was in action three times in 2018. Having said that, he lost two of his fights, first in a title bout against heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic at UFC 220, and then against Derrick Lewis at UFC 226. Both of those defeats came on points, and Ngannou will need to be wary of Velasquez’s notorious work rate and cardio strength in case this one goes to the judges.
If the Velasquez of old turns up, he’ll have too much for the #3 heavyweight contender in this fight and looks good at 4/7 with a number of top betting sites. Given his knockout power and striking ability, Velasquez could be very tempting at evens to win it inside the distance. Ngannou starts as the 7/5 underdog, but we expect Velasquez to prove his class. He’s already looking ahead to a fight against Jon Jones, after all.
1 x 2 Odds
- Velasquez hasn’t fought in the UFC since July 2016
- Eight of Ngannou’s 12 wins have come via knockout
- 12 of Velasquez’s 14 wins have come via knockout
- All three of Ngannou’s defeats have come via decision
- Although he was born in California, Velasquez was raised in Arizona and has competed in the state throughout his life
- Over two spells, Velasquez has spent three and a half years in total as the UFC heavyweight champion
- Ngannou only needed 45 seconds to beat his last opponent, Curtis Blaydes, in November of last year