After beating Rodrigo Minotauro at UFC 110, Cain Velasquez remains undefeated in MMA, with eight wins. His next opponent, on October 21 in California, is the gargantuan Brock Lesnar, in a bout worth the heavyweight title. A phenomenal wrestler established on the university circuit, this fighter of Mexican heritage simply walked away from representing his country at the greatest festival for his sport there is, the Olympics. Why? To be happy in MMA.
Our correspondent Nalty Jr spoke with the beast in an interview filed in our NOCAUTE magazine archives. Coming up, check out a bit of the conversation to find out more about Cain Velasquez.
How long have you trained MMA and what’s your belt in Jiu-Jitsu?
I started MMA three years ago. I started Jiu-Jitsu at the same time that I started MMA; I’m currently a purple belt. I do a lot more no-gi than gi, but when I train in the gi I’m a purple belt.
After learning Jiu-Jitsu my wrestling improved” Cain Velasquez
You come from a wrestling background. Did you feel much difference when you started learning Jiu-Jitsu?
I didn’t feel there was much difference between Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling, but after I learned Jiu-Jitsu my wrestling improved considerably. I have more positional control. I feel the mixture of wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu is really great.
How did the opportunity to fight in the UFC come about?
I had two fights on my CV and wanted to fight in other shows before going to the UFC, to get some experience. But It was really hard to get fights with other organizations, so my manager said: ‘We haven’t fought in a long time, we can’t wait any longer. It’s time to call up the UFC.’ He made the call, made Dana White an offer and we went to Vegas. We took two fighters with us and Dana watched me standing with those two fighters and doing Jiu-Jitsu with another two heavyweight athletes. He liked what he saw and told me I was in the UFC.
You were a wrestling champion in the USA. Did you ever harbor the dream of competing at the Olympics?
When I was in college, that was one of my objectives. But when I was just doing wrestling I felt there was something missing. So I discovered what was missing was throwing punches. I wanted to do boxing and kickboxing, throw strikes. That’s why, instead of setting the goal of going to the Olympics, I chose to set out on a career in MMA.
Your base is wrestling, but you’ve won nearly all your fights by knockout (seven in eight). Does that surprise you?
No. I’ve practiced MMA for three years and worked on my standup game a lot. I always use my wrestling in fights, even when I’m going for the knockout. I use my wrestling to take it to the ground and do ground and pound. Even though I’m a wrestler, I train hard to be the best I can be in MMA.
How do you deal with the pressure of being unbeaten?
I don’t feel any pressure. I’m just conscious that I have to keep training hard in the gym. I don’t pay attention to what people say. I can’t listen to them. What I have to do is be well-trained and ready to beat my opponent.
What can you say about your game plan, your strategy in your fights?
I have a strategy for each fight; it depends on who my opponent is. Before each fight, I get together with my coaches and watch my future opponent’s fight and we talk amongst ourselves to reach a conclusion on the best strategy to beat the fighter. And, based on that strategy, we train for months to beat the guy.