SEOUL, Oct. 20 (Korea Bizwire) — Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez said Friday that he still isn’t 100 percent fit enough to return to the octagon this year, although he expects to come back in the middle of next year.
Velasquez said making a comeback isn’t his priority at the moment, since his wife is pregnant.
“She’s going to deliver pretty soon, probably next month, and I want to focus on that,” Velasquez said. “I want to experience the whole thing. I want to be there for my family.”
The American mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter was last seen in the octagon in July 2016, when he beat Travis Browne at the UFC 200 in Las Vegas. He was scheduled to take on Fabrício Werdum in December 2016, but the Nevada State Athletic Commission pulled him from the card after determining that the 35-year-old was unfit to compete due to bone spurs on his back.
Velasquez then underwent surgery in January to fix his back problem and has been sidelined from fighting since.
“Once our baby is born, I’ll come back,” he said. “Maybe in the middle part of next year. When I come back, I’ll be 100 percent (fit).”
With some fans expecting him to go head-to-head against current UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic, Velasquez, whose MMA record is 14-2, said he doesn’t care about whom his next opponent will be.
“Whoever the UFC gives me, I don’t care,” he said. “I’ll be ready.”
Velasquez landed in South Korea for the first time on Thursday to meet his fans and look around the country where the Winter Olympic Games will be staged next year in PyeongChang, 180 kilometers east of Seoul.
“I’m big fan of Korean cuisine,” he said. “I’m here with an open mind — just want to … experience everything.”
At the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) Center in Seoul, he enjoyed some winter sports in virtual reality (VR), such as alpine skiing, biathlon and bobsleigh. Velasquez said although he isn’t really big fan of winters sports, he’ll visit South Korea again next year for the Winter Olympics if he is invited.
“I grew up in Arizona, one of the hottest places, so I’m not really a big fan of (winter sports),” he said. “If I get invited, that’ll be awesome. I’m always ready to try new things.”
Velasquez said he’ll also visit South Korea again if an UFC event is staged here and he is in the card. South Korea’s only UFC event was in 2015.
“I want to fight anywhere,” he said. “When that time comes, I’ll fight. Why not?”
Velasquez will later meet UFC featherweight fighter Jung Chang-sung, better known as his nickname “Korean Zombie,” at the South Korean’s gym in southern Seoul and attend his training session.