If you’re awaiting Cain Velasquez’s return to the cage, you’re going to be waiting a little longer.

The oft-injured American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) star, who’s fought only twice since his fateful brutalization of longtime rival Junior dos Santos at UFC 166 in 2013, was recently forced out of his scheduled rematch with Fabricio Werdum at last December’s UFC 207 due to the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) refusing to license the former heavyweight champion.

Velasquez was set to undergo back surgery after the fight – the eighth surgery of his decorated yet stalling career – and the governing commission found him unfit to throw down. There’s currently no set timetable for Velasquez’s return, as longtime head coach Javier Mendez told Submission Radio (via MMA Mania) that Velasquez “hardly ever” ventures into AKA and most likely will not fight soon:

“He comes in the gym on a rare occasion, but he’s slowly coming back into it. He’s not jumping on board to do anything, he’s just taking his time. I know that May 11 is something they’re looking at, but realistically Cain is not gonna fight on short notice. He’s not gonna fight without an eight-week training camp. So I look at it like if he’s hardly ever coming into the gym now because he has other business things he has to take care of, I don’t see him fighting (soon). I see him fighting two times this year, but I don’t see him fighting in May because of the timeframe.”

That’s far from good news for the troubled contender, who has long been described as one of the best heavyweights in MMA history, with many feeling he would be far and away the best if he could only stay healthy.

Velasquez was last seen demolishing heavyweight punching bag Travis Browne in a beautiful display of violence at last summer’s UFC 200, but with his bouts now averaging over a year-and-a-half in between them in recent years, coupled with this current revelation he’s hardly preparing to fight, it’s safe to wonder if the onetime pound-for-pound star will ever be able to consistently dominate the division that was his and his alone only a few short years ago.

The good news, if there is any, is that Velasquez can obviously get right back into the title picture in the ultra-shallow UFC heavyweight landscape with only one big win, and it wouldn’t be unheard of to see him get a title shot if a few things went the right way.

If and when that happens, his fans can only wish he’s able to answer the call, and from the sounds of things currently, that’s far from the case. Will Velasquez ever be the same?

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