Coach: Cain Can ‘Absolutely’ Get Knocked Out By Francis Ngannou

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Cain Velasquez is finally back and set for a huge fight in the Octagon.

The former heavyweight champ will lock horns with Francis Ngannou in the main event of February 17’s UFC on ESPN 1 from Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. It’s a big fight Velasquez is already touting as one that could propel him back into title contention.

We don’t really know where Velasquez is at in his MMA career at this point. His last fight was a win over Travis Browne in 2016, meaning he’s been out of action for over two-and-a-half years. He’s certainly one of the best heavyweights to compete in MMA. But repeated long layoffs due to injury have unfortunately sapped him of much of his fighting prime.

Across the Octagon, there’s also uncertainty about Ngannou, but for much different reasons. ‘The Predator’ was fast-tracked to a title shot after storming into the UFC. He was then was sent packing by former champion Stipe Miocic at UFC 220 last year. A lackluster performance in a follow-up bout against Derrick Lewis last summer had many, including UFC President Dana White, questioning Ngannou’s mental state. He’s since rebounded by knocking out Curtis Blaydes last November.

Due to his loss to Miocic, it would seem Velasquez’s style will present problems for Ngannou. The former champion’s coach Javier Mendez acknowledged that in a recent interview with Shaun Al-Shatti (quotes via MMA Mania), but also noted Ngannou can knock anyone out:

“Can Cain beat him? Absolutely. Can Cain maul him? Absolutely. But can Cain get knocked out by a guy that hits like a freakin’ train? Yes. So my job is to be very careful with a guy like that. We can’t deviate with him.”

It’s a smart plan of action from the longtime AKA head trainer. Ngannou may have issues with the best wrestlers at heavyweight. One of his punches can give any heavyweight nightmares if it lands cleanly as well. Mendez said that the fact Ngannou got another big win under his belt makes him even more dangerous. Where he was potentially overconfident then under-confident during the past year, he now feels ‘The Predator’ is just confident now:

“He’s too strong, he hits way too hard, he’s really fast, and now it looks like he’s got his mojo back. For a while there, it looked like he was fighting himself. Maybe overconfident, under-confident. I think he went from overconfident to under-confident to now confident. I don’t think he’s overconfident now, I just think he’s confident.”

It may seem cliche, but Mendez believes they are now facing the most dangerous version of ‘The Predator’ anybody has ever faced. He admitted one punch could change everything in Arizona:

“So I feel that we have the most dangerous [Ngannou] that anybody’s ever faced now, because I think he’s finally got it down. One shot changes everything,”