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Former Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez officially retired from mixed martial arts earlier this month after the UFC agreed to terminate his contract with the promotion so he could take up a lucrative offer from the WWE.
Velasquez becomes the second UFC champion after Ronda Rousey to officially move from MMA to professional wrestling and will be hoping he can replicate her success after she took the WWE by storm.
UFC President Dana White told reporters at the UFC on ESPN 6 post-fight press conference that he was originally sceptical of Velasquez moving to wrestling after the former champ signed with the Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide promotion earlier this year, but said after seeing the 37-year-old perform he was instantly sold (via MMAJunkie.com).
“Cain’s had some rough injuries that have happened,” White said. “The guy’s been a professional athlete for a long time; a collegiate athlete. He’s a super nice guy. When it looks like it’s the end of your career and you’re looking at what to do next, it’s always hard for these guys to figure out what’s next.
“‘Where do I fit? What do I do?’ I was always like, ‘How’s Cain going to wrestle? He’s going to have problems with his body in MMA.’ Then I saw him doing the ‘loobra libay,’ (or) whatever they call wrestling with the mask on. I was like, ‘Godd**n, he’s pretty good.’ It’s cool.”
White then provided some detail as to the conversation he had with the WWE regarding his release from the promotion:
“I got a call from WWE,” White said. “I knew. I knew what they were thinking. I was totally cool with it from the minute they called me. They didn’t even ask me. They were just looking for Cain. I figured that’s exactly what they were going to do because it completely makes sense.”
White said he wished Velasquez all the best in his new career and hopes he can enjoy the same success as Rousey:
“I’m happy for him, I’m happy for his family, and I hope he does well like Ronda did and makes a lot of money,” White said. “I hope the fans over there love him.”