As UFC 200 approaches, there’s one curious question to posit: where oh where has Cain Velasquez gone?

Sure, he’s on the UFC 200 card, fighting Travis Browne. Yet he has, for the most part, been left out of the promotional materials for the show. He has barely been featured on the marketing, can’t be found in most of the event posters — and this, despite being a former UFC champion. This, all while Brock Lesnar, the man he defeated to take the UFC heavyweight title for the first time, is the talk of the event.

It’s strange, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed, even among Velasquez’s peers. UFC heavyweight Derrick Lewis, fighting Roy Nelson at UFC Fight Night 90 Thursday, made note of it in his media scrum. Once the golden boy of the UFC heavyweight division, Velasquez has been seemingly forgotten in the build up to the big event.

Maybe it’s a lack of confidence in Cain’s ability to consistently make it to the cage — injuries, after all, have been the story of his career. Maybe the UFC is shying away from promoting the bout as a return to the title picture as a result. Maybe they just feel they don’t have enough time to spotlight the other great fights on the main card: all title fights plus the returning Lesnar taking on Mark Hunt.

Still, it’s a puzzler. Once upon a time, Cain Velasquez was the UFC’s surefire way into the Latin Amercian market. He was supposed to be the face of the company. Now, in his first fight back from losing the heavyweight championship to Fabricio Werdum (who in turn lost it to Stipe Miocic), he’s all but an afterthought.

Part of this is a byproduct of stacking so many great fights on a single card, to be sure. Part of it, however, may be indicative of where the UFC wants to go with the heavyweight division. Miocic vs. Alistair Overeem is on deck at UFC 203. After that, the contender picture is a little murky. Should Mark Hunt defeat Brock Lesnar at UFC 200, he’ll be on a 3-fight win streak. Both Velasquez and Werdum are coming off losses, as is Ben Rothwell. Junior Dos Santos scored that win over Rothwell, but is just one win removed from losing to Overeem. In short — business as usual in the UFC heavyweight ranks.

Here’s a possibility, however: following UFC 200, should Velasquez win, you have him, Werdum, and Dos Santos all sitting as former champions with some claim to a title shot. Werdum faces Ben Rothwell at UFC 203. Should he win, the smart money would be to pair up Werdum and Dos Santos for a rematch of their 2008 fight, which sent Werdum packing from the UFC at the time. The winner of that bout could easily be set up for a title shot — leaving Velasquez out in the cold.

That’s a bitter pill to swallow, no doubt, for the Mexican-American star. And should Daniel Cormier lose to Jon Jones at UFC 200 and decide to make his way back to heavyweight, things in the division may become even more complicated.

In any case, put out an APB for Cain Velasquez as far as the UFC is concerned, or at least consider that his “push” has been stolen. Which is a shame, because he remains one of the best fighters in the division.

About The Author

Senior Staff Writer

Covering the sport of MMA from Ontario, Canada, Jay Anderson has been writing for various publications covering sports, technology, and pop culture since 2001. Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College under the Ontario Management Development Program. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.