5 Defining Moments: Cain Velasquez

By Mark Raymundo Feb 16, 2019


You can sign up for a free seven-day trial of ESPN+ right here, and you can then stream UFC on ESPN+ live on your computer, phone, tablet or streaming device via the ESPN app.

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, Francis 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 Strikeforce and BodogFight. In his Octagon debut, Velasquez scored a first-round TKO of Brad Morris.

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 great Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in just one round. The win earned him a date with then champion Brock Lesnar.

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. Advertisement
<h2>Fight Finder</h2>