Number one UFC heavyweight contender Cain Velasquez has earned the opportunity to take on UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar by remaining undefeated in eight fights, six under the UFC banner. The American Kickboxing Academy product has only gone the distance in one fight, a gutsy unanimous decision win over Cheick Kongo that came one year ago. Velasquez recently sat down with MMAthletics to discuss his upcoming title shot and revealed how big a role his collegiate wrestling experience has played in his current MMA success as well as how he plans to beat Lesnar this October.
Velasquez was a NCAA Division-1 wrestler at Arizona State University and attributes his experience there as a formative one; one that provided him with the best background with which to transition into MMA and also one that lead to his discovery of and passion for mixed martial arts.
“It’s great to have another job to go into. When you wrestle in college pretty much the only thing you can do is try to go out for the Olympics, and only a few people can do that. Or you can try to coach,” said Velasquez. “For me I just wanted to do something different. I loved wrestling but, for me, I wanted to hit my opponent, I wanted to hit my training partners. I wanted to do the striking part of it. So seeing how it was growing much bigger, I knew with my wrestling background that I could really succeed in that kind of sport. I think wrestlers are the best as far as transitioning into the sport. So that’s why I did it.”
The soft-spoken fighter also revealed to MMAthletics that he doesn’t spend any time getting caught up in his own hype, indicating that his undefeated record doesn’t mean anything if he does not continue to do the work that got him here.
“I don’t think about it. Ever since I started, I don’t think about it,” he said. “I don’t think about what people say, what the hype is or whatever. I know what my job is and I’ve gotta do two things: Come in here, train hard and go win fights impressive.”
Velasquez will challenger for Lesnar’s belt in the main event of the upcoming UFC 121 this October 23rd and will be looking to utilize his speed and technique to overcome the bull strength of Lesnar.
“I feel good about this fight. I got into this sport to fight the best, I think he’s the best out right now,” Velasquez said. “I know he’s a lot bigger, obviously a lot stronger than me. I have to use my quickness, use the distance and just try to be quicker than he is. Hopefully, with that, with the wrestling, just try to have my cardio up real high. Moving a guy that’s real big–I competed in wrestling so much and the guys are so much bigger in wrestling. I’m used to competing in wrestling against guys that are a lot bigger. I have to be quicker that night.”
UFC 121 will air live on pay-per-view out of the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. The card will also feature bouts between welterweight contenders Jake Shields and Martin Kampmann, Diego Sanchez and Paulo Thiago as well as a light heavyweight contest between Tito Ortiz and Matt Hamill. In other heavyweight action, Brendan Schaub will be taking on Gabriel Gonzaga to round out the main card.