A previously rumored clash between Cain Velasquez and Francis Ngannou is now official for the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s debut on the ESPN Network.
The Las Vegas-based promotion formally announced the heavyweight booking on Wednesday. UFC on Fox 1 takes place at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix on Feb. 17 and airs on ESPN. The still-growing card is also expected to include a bantamweight tilt pitting Jimmie Rivera against Aljamain Sterling.
Velasquez has been plagued more numerous injuries in recent years, which have limited his activity in the Octagon. The American Kickboxing Academy stalwart last appeared at UFC 200 in July 2016, when he scored a first-round technical knockout of Travis Browne. The 36-year-old former heavyweight champion has fought just twice overall since 2013, when he made successful title defenses against Junior dos Santos and Antonio Silva.
After looking underwhelming in back-to-back losses to Stipe Miocic and Derrick Lewis, Ngannou returned to form with a 45-second TKO of Curtis Blaydes in the UFC Fight Night 141 main event on Nov. 24. “The Predator” began his promotional tenure with six consecutive finishes before falling to Miocic and Lewis earlier this year.