Long-time top heavyweight contender Cain Velasquez has finally been granted the opportunity to challenge previously dormant UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar for his strap. After defeating Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in February, Velasquez was considered to be right behind Shane Carwin on the list of heavyweight title challengers; Velasquez had to wait his turn while Lesnar recovered from diverticulitis and prepared to face Carwin but now his patience has finally paid off. Carwin took on Lesnar and, after a brutally strong first round for the Greg Jackson-trained fighter, fell to the surprisingly resilient Mid-Western behemoth in the second round. Velasquez is now officially locked into facing Lesnar for the title this October and recently spoke to the crew at ESPN MMA Live to give his thoughts on Lesnar and their upcoming bout.
“I think Brock showed a lot of heart finishing out that first round and weathering Shane Carwin’s ground and pound and stand-up,” Carwin said of Lesnar’s impressive UFC 116 title defense. “And coming back in the second round and getting that submission. I don’t think a lot of guys could have survived that first round.”
While Lesnar may not be the most technically proficient fighter in the game, his abnormal athleticism and imposing size often allow him to overcome his opponents. His stellar amateur wrestling pedigree doesn’t hurt either. Velasquez gave Lesnar his props but said that he is training hard to defeat Lesnar and become the new champion.
“When you have somebody that big, that strong and that powerful who knows how to wrestle that well, it’s going to be tough,” said the American Kickboxing Academy product. “But I have good training partners and I have guys coming in to emulate his size, strength and wrestling, so I’m doing all the right things to get ready for this fight.”
Velasquez is a decorated collegiate wrestler himself and has shown some serious chops in the striking department as well; he plans on using those skills against Lesnar and is unafraid to take the fight anywhere that it may go.
“I’m expecting to go everywhere in the fight,” said Velasquez. “I’m expecting to do some stand-up, go on the ground, do some wrestling. I train for all my fights that way. I don’t expect him to be one dimensional, but I do expect him to try that shot on me, so I just need to be ready.”
As far as what he believes will offer him the edge against the champ, Velasquez astutely points to the striking department where his fluidity and speed could more than make up for Lesnar’s size and power.
“I think having more experience with the stand-up — just being more comfortable with it I think right now,” said Velasquez of his possible keys to victory. “My movement; I think my movement’s really well. Those kind of things I’m going to put in there and put in my game plan against Brock.”
Velasquez will challenge Lesnar for his title come October 23rd at UFC 121 and, although nothing has yet been officially announced, the card is expected to take place at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.