When Cain Velasquez experienced health struggles, many thought that his career in professional mixed martial artist was over. But the former two-time heavyweight champion has defied the odds as he is now in good shape once again and is set to return to action this month.
The 36-year-old veteran will lock horns with knockout sensation Francis Ngannou in the main event of UFC on ESPN 1 on February 17 at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. Velasquez is aiming to recapture the heavyweight throne after his friend and reigning champion, Daniel Cormier, officially calls it a career.
And once Velsaquez is done in MMA, Velasquez said he is interested in joining the ranks of Ronda Rousey and Brock Lesnar, who brought their talents in the wrestling world after their UFC stints.
Fighting between Cain Velasquez and Francis Ngannou will be held at UFC on ESPN 1 on February 17 in Phoenix.
— MMA_Monkey (@DaniloCalic) January 9, 2019
Cain Velasquez has held the heavyweight championship twice in his 13-year MMA career. But in 2015, he saw the 265-lb belt slip out of his hands after Fabricio Werdum submitted him at UFC 188.
The American fighter bounced back from that heartbreaking loss as he hammered Travis Browne in the following year. It was an excellent start to reclaim his lost glory, but the next two years have been difficult for Velasquez as he had to deal with health struggles.
He was sidelined for more than two years due to major injuries, spurring doubts on his possible return. A rematch with Werdum was booked for December 2016, but the Nevada State Athletic Commission ruled Velasquez out due to a back injury.
During his absence, a major shakeup has took place in his kingdom at 265-lb -one of them was Daniel Cormier, his teammate at American Kickboxing Academy, taking over the throne.
After years of overcoming injuries and restoring his health, the time has come for Velasquez to finally make a return trip to the Octagon. On Saturday, he will headline the UFC Phoenix opposite Ngannou in an exciting heavyweight clash.
He said he had a great time off and is now excited to fight in front of his friends and family in Arizona, where he had an illustrious wrestling stint during his high school and college years.
Velasquez collected 110 wins and ten losses in four years of representing the Kofa High School before going 86-17 in three seasons wrestling for the Arizona State University.
This is why it is no surprise that the 36-year old wants to start a career at WWE when his stint at UFC ends.
— WrestleZone on Mandatory (@WRESTLEZONEcom) February 14, 2019
In a recent interview with MMA Fighting, Velasquez said he is very much interested in competing in professional wrestling after his MMA career. But he claimed that he needs to be in great condition to become the best wrestler.
“Hell yeah. I am [interested in it]. The transition was pretty easy. I’m pretty athletic for a big guy. I learn by watching; I’ve never been someone that sits in a classroom and learn that way.”
“It would take time. I need to be in the gym more to do that. I need to be engulfed in it for months to be the best that I could. I’m not looking to just do it half-assed and do some appearances. If I do it, I’m gonna do it 100 per cent.”
“Obviously, it’s a different sport, a whole different way of doing it. So, for me, it was an opportunity to see if I could even do it. Does [my wrestling] translate over from what I’ve done in the past to this or is it something totally different? I found that for me, I learned a lot of the stuff very quickly from past experiences from wrestling and MMA.”
Asked about the difference between the two sports, he stressed that wrestling is less self-centred compared to MMA as athletes get to work together at WWE.
“It’s different from what we do in mixed martial arts. We have teams that were associated with, but the whole sport in general, it’s more self-centered.”
“WWE might seem that way but it’s not. People are working together, Triple H is helping everyone to be their best. That’s not something I’ve experienced since I was in college or high school.”
“It was a really positive work environment,” Velasquez asserted.
(Featured Image Source: Instagram/Cain Velasquez)