UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez will fight to defend his belt against Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva at UFC 160 later this month on May 20 in Las Vegas. Before that battle happens, take some time to brush up on your Velasquez history.
1. He is an accomplished wrestler
Cain Velasquez is a two-time 5A High School state wrestling champion in Arizona where he racked up a record of 110-10, though he also played football during the fall as a quarterback. His senior year of high school he served a captain on both the wrestling and football teams.
In college, Velasquez first went to Iowa Central Community College in 2002, wrestling for one season and becoming a NJAAC All-American and winning the NJAAC Junior College Championship. He then transferred to Arizona State University. There he became a two-time All-American, two-time Pac-10 Conference champion and the Pac-10 Wrestler of the Year in 2005. His teammates included upcoming flyweight title challenger John Moraga, middleweight C.B. Dollaway, top ten light heavyweight and The Ultimate Fighter season eight winner Ryan Bader. Also, their assistant coach was Aaron Simpson.
His high level of wrestling shows in the UFC. FightMetric.com has his him scoring an average of 6.61 takedowns per fight, a 56.7 percent takedown accuracy and 88 percent takedown defense rating. He has only been taken down four times in the UFC and never more than once per fight.
2. He defeated Brock Lesnar to obtain UFC gold
In order to become a UFC champion, Velasquez had to face reigning champion Brock Lesnar at UFC 121 in October 2010. Lesnar was the favorite coming into this bout, riding a three-fight win streak over Randy Couture, Frank Mir and Shane Carwin, finishing all of his opponents. Lesnar is NCAA Division I National Champion wrestler and weighed in for their match at 20 pounds heavier than Velasquez. Lesnar attempted to take him down immediately, but Velasquez was actually able to take Lesnar down in that fight. He dominated Lesnar to receive a TKO win in the first round and the UFC heavyweight strap.
3. He lost his title to Junior dos Santos
In his first title defense, Velasquez was knocked out by Junior dos Santos in the first round at the first ever UFC on FOX event. That fight was the first of his career and the only bout to air on the FOX broadcast.
4. But he quickly found the title again
His next fight was his first match against Silva, which saw him bloody his opponent up with ground strikes to get the first-round TKO stoppage win. That win secured him a rematch with Dos Santos at UFC 155. That fight was a complete opposite from their first encounter, going all five rounds with Velasquez dominating Dos Santos with takedowns and strikes. He came out of that fight virtually unscathed and the UFC heavyweight champion once again.
5. He knocked out “Big Nog”
The fight that secured him his first shot at the UFC title was his bout with former Pride heavyweight champion and UFC interim heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 110 in 2010. Velasquez knocked him with a quick combination and then knocked him out on the ground in the first round. The only other man to ever finish Nogueira is Mir.
6. Cain Velasquez is a family man
Velasquez did not come from wealth. His parents supported him and his two siblings by picking lettuce in fields. He lists his parents as his heroes and credits them for his intense work ethic. He and his girlfriend Michelle welcomed their first child, Coral Love Velazquez, on May 6, 2009. The couple got engaged after his UFC 110 win over Nogueira in Australia and married on May 28, 2011. Velasquez said he had to delay celebrating Christmas with his family because of his upcoming fight before UFC 155. After defeating dos Santos, he said he was giving the belt to his wife as a Christmas gift.
7. He is a brown belt in jiu-jitsu
Velasquez has never scored a submission victory and, according to FightMetric.com, he has only attempted two submissions in his whole career, both being in the same fight. However, he trains jiu-jitsu under notable instructor Dave Camarillo and holds the rank of brown belt.
8. A proud Mexican-American
His father, Efrain, was an illegal immigrant and received citizenship after marrying his mother, Isabel. He was raised in Arizona and would often travel to Mexico to visit family. He has a tattoo across his chest that reads “Brown Pride.” He says he got the tattoo as homage to the hard work his parents endured and the spirited work ethic of the Mexican people. He feels didn’t have many Mexican role models his size as he was growing up and he cherishes the opportunity to set a good example for Mexican-Americans. He walks out to mariachi music for all of his fights. He dedicated his UFC 121 title-claiming victory to all Mexicans and Mexican-Americans
9. An AKA team member
Under the tutelage of Javier Mendez and Bob Cook, the heavyweight champ develops his skills at America Kickboxing Academy, one of the most star-studded gyms in the world. He prepares for his fights alongside champions, former champions and many notable fighters such as Gray Maynard, Josh Thomson, Phil Baroni, Lavar Johnson, Todd Duffee, Luke Rockhold, Jon Fitch, Mike Swick, Daniel Cormier and formerly Josh Koscheck. The gym was the subject of the reality TV series "Fight Factory."
10. Velasquez is a hard hitting finisher
With a total career record of 12-1, only two of those fights have gone to a decision. Nine of his victories have come by way of KO/TKO.