Cain Velasquez (14-2) vs. Francis Ngannou (12-3) (TV: ESPN+, ESPN)
Main Event: UFC Fight Night
February 17, 2019 5:30 PM ET Talking Stick Resort Arena (Phoenix, Arizona)
Odds: Cain Velasquez -175 Francis Ngannou +145
Free UFC Pick Cain Velasquez vs Francis Ngannou
In the main event Cain Velasquez will fight Francis Ngannou in a heavyweight matchup with title implications. Velasquez will be returning to the octagon for the first time since July 9th, 2016. Velasquez may have to deal with some ring rust as he hasn’t had a professional bout in a couple of years. He isn’t taking a tune-up fight since Ngannou is a scary prospect in the heavyweight division and will be looking to knock out the older Velasquez. If Ngannou can’t land a big shot early in the fight then Velasquez will likely end up winning by decision.
Ngannou looked like a knockout machine until he faced some stiffer competition. With recent losses to Stipe Miocic and Derrick Lewis (both by unanimous decision) it is clear that Ngannou has room for improvement. He needs to get better with his stamina, because he can tend to gas out in the later rounds of a fight. Velasquez is known as having some of the best cardio, so Ngannou will need to try to match his fitness. The experience factor will be an advantage for the former champ, Velasquez who has been in some wars during his career.
UFC Pick Cain Velasquez vs Francis Ngannou
Ngannou is coming off a knockout victory over Curtis Blaydes on November 24th, 2018. This will be another step up in competition for Ngannou, who will have to prove he has learned from the losses to Miocic and Lewis. Since fans haven’t seen Velasquez fight since 2016 there will be a lot of interest to see if he has improved or declined. Ngannou can knock out most opponents, but Velasquez should be able to avoid most big shots and take advantage of a less fit opponent. Ngannou has great physical gifts and great knockout power. But, he needs to improve his cardio, take down defense, work rate, and ground game. Velasquez should be able to take advantage of these weaknesses and outwork Ngannou for a majority of the fight.
Pick: Cain Velasquez -175