Cain Velasquez has no timeline yet for his return to the UFC

No high-level fighter has lost more years off the prime of their career due to injury than former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez.

Often regarded as a heavyweight who could one day be cemented as the greatest of all time, Velasquez has been plagued by a string of injuries that have kept him out of action for long stretches throughout his career.

Most recently, Velasquez was forced to undergo neck surgery -- a pre-existing injury that concerned the Nevada State Athletic Commission so much that they wouldn't allow him to fight at UFC 207 this past December following his revelation that he was going under the knife after his bout was concluded.

While the surgery was successful and UFC president Dana White even hinted that Velasquez may be healthy again as early as April, it appears the former heavyweight champion will be on the shelf for an extended period of time.

Velasquez updated his condition via a post on Twitter where he explained that he's still not back to 100-percent and thus cannot give a timeline on when he'll be able to return to action.

"As you know, I underwent surgery in early January. That surgery was very successful and I hope the issue doesn't ever come up again. However, right now I am listening to my body and the advice from my medical team and choosing to take it easy," Velasquez wrote. "I'm still staying in shape but getting back into fighting shape is going to take a bit more time as I can't train the way I know how. I have to be smart about going back and can't rush just to make a fight and then risk another injury. My body needs to be at 100-percent.

"I can't provide a definitive timeline on when I'll be ready to go but you'll be the first to know when the time comes."

Prior to the surgery, Velasquez was scheduled for a fight against former champion Fabricio Werdum, who was the last fighter to hand him a defeat when he lost his title in 2015.

Unfortunately, Velasquez wasn't able to face Werdum in the rematch and at this point there's no telling who he might draw when he finally returns to action.

Velasquez says he plans on tackling a top ranked heavyweight in his next fight as he continues his quest to regain the heavyweight gold.

"I'm excited to see the latest heavyweight fights, especially those scheduled for UFC 211. I'm confident I'll be facing someone from that group because I belong there and I want nothing more than to get my belt back," Velasquez wrote.

"Again, I take my health and the longevity of my career very seriously. Just as important to me is what I deliver to all of you. I read all of your messages of support and feel I have the most loyal fans. Because of this, I'm not willing to dishonor your loyalty or the hard earned money you guys invest to watch me fight. I won't fight unless I can show you what you deserve and paid for."

Velasquez hasn't fought since UFC 200 in July 2016 and from the sound of things he won't be booking his next bout any time soon.

The former heavyweight champion has only fought four times over the past four years and hasn't fought twice in the same calendar year since 2013. Given his current trajectory, it's tough to imagine Velasquez will fight more than once in 2017 if at all.