6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) / 238 lb (108 kg; 17 st 0 lb) / Heavyweight
At his peak, Cain Velasquez is up there with the best heavyweights of all time. His wrestling and cardio to go all five rounds was his best asset, but his boxing is also crisp. When you mention UFC heavyweight greats, it is hard not to mention Velasquez. He was also a D1 Wrestler, so in terms of heavyweight wrestling, his credentials are one of the best.
The team that Velasquez used to train under was The American KickBoxing Academy where huge names and champions are also training there. Daniel Cormier, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Luke Rockhold are other known UFC Champions that trained under AKA. It is considered one of the best MMA teams. Although it was Velasquez, who won AKA’s first-ever UFC champion.
Cain Velasquez had only a few MMA fights in his whole career, In just his third fight, he already fought in the UFC. Unlike other fighters, Velasquez did not really get special treatment or the hype that some potential stars would have. His first UFC fight was against Brad Morris and he finished him via TKO. It showcased how well-rounded Velasquez is, not just his wrestling but striking as well.
Velasquez then went on five win-streak beating guys like Jake O’Brien, Cheick Kongo, Ben Rothwell, and Big Nog. His knockout against Big Nog was was one of the crispest showings of heavyweight boxing. We are all aware of how legendary Noguiera’s career and name in the MMA community and for Velasquez to put him to sleep was jaw-dropping. It awarded Velasquez with a knockout of the night win bonus.
Lesnar vs Velasquez
The knockout also granted Velasquez a title shot against then-champion, Brock Lesnar. The fight was a one-sided beatdown, even though Lesnar was the bigger man, he was easily handled by Velasquez. The striking and wrestling defense managed to stop Lesnar in under one round. It was the end of Lesnar’s reign at the top.
Velasquez vs Dos Santos
Velasquez won the title as an undefeated MMA fighter, he then faced Junior Dos Santos. There was tremendous hype with JDS as well, he was knocking guys out. In just his debut, he knocked out Fabricio Werdum. Some of the names he has beaten were Struve, Cro Cop, Gonzaga, and Carwin. So it was the fight to make next.
Velasquez was confident but got caught with a flush uppercut that put him to sleep. Junior Dos Santos handed Velasquez his first ever MMA career loss.
As heavyweight’s talent was not as stacked as the other divisions, Velasquez took on Antonio “Big Foot” Silva. Even though the fight ended in just one round, Silva’s blood was all over the canvas. It was a demolition performance by Velasquez.
Dos Santos vs Velasquez 2 : Vengence
UFC granted Velasquez another title shot, he was looking to win not only the belt but also avenge his only loss against JDS. This time, Velasquez had a different strategy which was to engage more in his wrestling. It was dangerous to strike with Dos Santos, so Velasquez grappled in the early to not only remove the threat of a knockout but also make JDS tired.
It was a one-sided beatdown, Velasquez winning all rounds. At that point, Velasquez looked like he would rule the division for quite a while. He was well-rounded and his cardio was miles ahead better than most heavyweights.
A rematch with Antonio Silva was then booked for his first title defense. Silva was coming off 2 wins over Browne and Overeem, so he deserved to fight for the title. In the early part, Silva was looking good, stuffing the takedowns but eventually got caught with a 1-2 combo by Velasquez that stopped the fight is also the very first round.
Another fight was booked and it is a bit strange but Junior Dos Santos trilogy was his next fight. Velasquez has fought 2 opponents in his last 5 fights which is crazy but it is also because there are just a few top heavyweights in the UFC.
The trilogy was to end the debate on who is the better fighter since both are 1-1 in their two encounters. It was another one-sided beating by Velasquez as this time, he finishes Velasquez in the third round. It is one of the most memorable trilogies in UFC heavyweight history.
Injuries and Downfall
One of the worst things to happen to Velasquez was his unending injuries, some claim due to his endless training. He was supposedly scheduled to face Fabricio Werdum and both even coached “The Ultimate Fighter” tv show but later pulled out on the scheduled fight as Velasquez suffered a torn meniscus and sprained MCL.
It was not until more than a year that Velasquez returned to face Werdum. The fight was held in Mexico, Cain’s home country. The fight was pretty much even until Velasquez looked gassed which is rare for a cardio-machine like Cain. Due to being a bit slow, he shot a takedown but Werdum anticipated it and locked a guillotine choke that stopped the fight.
Velasquez and his team thought that it would have been due to Mexico’s high elevation that led to him being tired. Werdum spent more time in Mexico to train while Velasquez just traveled two weeks before the fight.
After suffering a brutal loss in his home country, his next fight was scheduled at UFC 200 against Travis Browne where he dominated the fight easily. He finished Browne at the last second of the first round.
Injuries happened again, as he was looking to fight for the title again but his body was just not fit to fight anymore. It was not until 3 years later where Velasquez stepped in to face powerful puncher, Francis Ngannou. Unfortunately, he got knocked out in under 30 seconds. A few months later, He later announced his retirement from the sport.