For many fans and pundits alike, Cain Velasquez is one of MMA’s biggest “what if” stories. The former UFC heavyweight champion in his prime was arguably an unstoppable talent. But in the end, his body was perhaps his biggest rival.
February 2019 marked the last time we saw the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) staple in action. For the first time in three years, Velasquez stepped foot into the octagon where he took on the future champion, Francis Ngannou. The Salinas, Calif. native suffered the same fate that most do when standing across from “The Predator,’ and that was a quick knockout loss in less than a minute. In Velasquez’s case, less than 30 seconds.
Velasquez, 39, announced his retirement from the sport in October of that same year. But as we’ve come to know all too well in MMA, never say never when it comes to the R-word.
“He’s got it if he wants it,” Velasquez’s longtime coach at AKA, Javier Mendez told MMA Junkie. “He’s got it. But I don’t know now if he wants to come back. I don’t speak with him about those things. But it’s possible. If someone says, ‘Hey, here’s $2 million, let’s go fight,’ he might say, ‘Eh, give me $4 [million] and I’ll do it.’”
The immediate aftermath of the Ngannou loss led many to believe that Velasquez suffered another injury mid-fight. His knee appeared to buckle as he landed somewhat awkwardly from the final knockout blows. No surgeries or severe injuries came from the loss, however, and Velasquez wound up committing to a career in professional wrestling.
Well, that only lasted so long as Velasquez signed with the WWE only to be released shortly after his scripted rematch with Brock Lesnar. Regardless of how things ended for Velasquez during this brief stint, it did show that he’s still capable of performing as an athlete to a certain degree.
“He does have more [in the tank] than what Daniel [Cormier] had,” Mendez said. “He’s not the same. Cain is not the same as when he was younger, but he does have more left than Daniel. He is younger — he’s not in his 40s. Remember, Daniel was 42 and he had a back surgery, and after the surgery, ‘DC’ wasn’t the same. The years caught up to him. All the wear and tear and everything came to an end with him. In his mind, he was always a champion. With Daniel, his mind was always stronger than his body.”
The UFC heavyweight division is undeniably at its most compelling than maybe it’s ever been from a business perspective. The champion in Ngannou is requesting his worth and airing his grievances while all-time great, Jon Jones, looms in the background, at the same time wanting proper compensation as well.
Surely, UFC President Dana White would be open to having Velasquez back in the mix, but would he be willing to pay up? You can be the judge on that one. Otherwise, the former champ may need to work a way out of his contract if he does end up trying to make one more run.
“I don’t know, but who knows — money talks most of the time,” Mendez said. “If the money is good and the UFC lets him, it’s possible that he may do it.
“But look, he’d have to fight in the UFC because even if you retire, you’re with the UFC. The UFC needs to give you permission, and if they don’t, you can’t do anything. He is doing pro wrestling, but that’s different. You can’t box, you can’t fight. If he wants to fight, the UFC needs to give him permission.”
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SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
Two years ago today, Jon Jones defeated Dominick Reyes by unanimous decision after a five-round battle at UFC 247.— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) February 8, 2022
Since then, Jones vacated the UFC light heavyweight title, announced a move to heavyweight, but has not yet competed in the new weight class. pic.twitter.com/vBAsmti1KU
I won today pic.twitter.com/J0yaoitmiU— Paulo Costa ( Borrachinha ) (@BorrachinhaMMA) February 9, 2022
One. Hitter. Quitter— ESPN Ringside (@ESPNRingside) February 8, 2022
(via TomSander1/IG) pic.twitter.com/xRpqDkEd4r
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