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UFC on ESPN 1 marks the return of former
Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight king, Cain
Velasquez. How long has he been out? During his absence,
Ngannou made his Octagon debut and fought nine times. That’s
quite a while, and Velasquez is out to prove that the game hasn’t
passed him by. Ahead of his much awaited return to the Octagon,
here are five of Velasquez’s numerous career-defining moments.
1. Next Big Thing
Anyone who has talked to
American Kickboxing Academy’s main man Javier Mendez around
2006 has probably been oriented on the talent that is Velasquez.
Even then, Mendez spoke highly of his prized ward, who arrived in
the UFC with a 2-0 record, having scored impressive TKO wins in
and BodogFight. In his Octagon debut, Velasquez scored a
first-round TKO of Brad
2. First Real Test
When Velasquez faced Cheick Kongo
at UFC 99, the latter was a top-ranked heavyweight knocking on the
doors of title contention. But Velasquez had other plans. The AKA
standout blasted Kongo with 29 hard shots to the head mostly from
top position and took him down seven times. In the end, Velasquez
was awarded the unanimous decision victory. It marked the first
time he reached the final buzzer in six professional fights.
3. Looming Title Shot
The win over Kongo was a step towards validating Mendez’s claims of
greatness. While Velasquez didn’t finish Kongo, he dominated the
Frenchman in all three rounds. The Mexican-American was back at UFC
104 where he clowned Ben
Rothwell. Then at UFC 110, he faced and knocked out Brazilin
Rodrigo Nogueira in just one round. The win earned him a date
with then champion Brock
4. High Above the Rest
UFC 121 was all about proving his championship caliber, and he did
so in less than five minutes. Velasquez faced Lesnar, then a
dominant force who had been destroying one opponent after another.
But Velasquez needed only one round to dismantle him. Lesnar
started out aggressively, scoring a takedown on his second try, but
wasn’t able to mount any offense as Velasquez got back up easily.
And when he took Lesnar to the ground for some nasty
ground-and-pound, there was no looking back. Referee Herb Dean had
seen enough at 4:12 of round 1.
5. Wakeup Call
Not many people gave Junior dos
Santos a chance when he challenged Velasquez for the title. But
then the unthinkable happened, and Dos Santos scored a first-round
knockout. Their second and third fights, however, told a different
story. Perfectly aware of his mistakes, Velasquez made the
necessary adjustments and completely mauled his opponent at UFC 155
for a unanimous decision victory. Their rubber match at UFC 166 was
no different, only this time, Velasquez made sure not to leave it
to the hands of the judges.