If you have caught any of the TV or internet spots promoting UFC 121 you have most likely noticed the serious promotional push of number one UFC heavyweight contender Cain Velasquez’s Mexican heritage. One such promo opens with the colors of the Mexican flag filling the UFC logo, followed by the assertion that the California-born Velasquez (shown standing intently in front of a waving Mexican flag) will attempt to become the first Mexican heavyweight champion in combat sports history. Velasquez has been unofficially tagged as the “Great Hispanic Hope” by the UFC promotional team, who are looking to expand into more Latino markets. The ever-reserved Velasquez has received much extra media attention (in addition to the amount he gets for taking on Brock Lesnar in a heavyweight title fight) due to this but recently told MMAFighting.com’s Ariel Helwani that he understands why and is okay with the Mexican heritage promotional angle as well as the extra attention.
“When I first saw the promo it was kind of a surprise,” Velasquez admitted. “For this fight being here and having a lot of people here of Mexican descent, it really helps it out. It just makes sense.”
However, simply because Velasquez is immensely proud of his heritage and willing to wave the flag for the Hispanic fans does not mean that he is only motivated by the opportunity to do his heritage proud. He told Helwani that he has always fought with the belt in mind; that his competitiveness is driving him to grab the gold more than his bloodline.
“Just that I am Mexican–just me being in the sport, I’ve always wanted to be the champ,” he said. “This is the whole reason I got into the sport. I have the opportunity now and I’m not gonna let it slip by.”
Velasquez will take on Brock Lesnar for the UFC heavyweight championship this weekend at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California in the main event of UFC 121.