The 37-year-old Mexican American mixed martial artist and wrestler isofficially stepping out of the Octagon and into the pro-wrestling ring for the foreseeable future.
Velasquez, a two-time UFC heavyweight champion, is in advanced talks to sign with WWE.
He made a surprise appearance on Friday on WWE SmackDown‘s Fox premiere at Staples Center, confronting Brock Lesnarin the closing moments of the show. Velasquez said he was not officially retired from the UFC, but pro wrestling is likely to be his focus right now.
Velasquez said no deal has been signed, and he also has been in discussions with other wrestling promotions, including upstart All Elite Wrestling (AEW) and New Japan Pro-Wrestling.
WWE could look to set up a blockbuster match between Velasquez and Lesnar, also a former UFC heavyweight champion.
Velasquez knocked out Lesnar to win the UFC belt in 2010. Coincidentally, Velasquez headlined the UFC’s first show on Fox in 2011, and Friday he was a major part of WWE’s Fox premiere, walking to the ring with Rey Mysterio and hitting Lesnar with a double-leg takedown.
Velasquez debuted in pro wrestling in August with Mexico’s Lucha Libre AAA. Velasquez is a celebrity in Mexico due to his UFC success and how he has marketed himself in the country. The 6-foot-2, 250-pound California native impressed at AAA’s Triplemaniashow in front of 18,000 at Mexico City Arena, pulling off athletic moves that were unexpected for a man his size.
Last month, Velasquez had a second match for AAA at Madison Square Garden‘s Hulu Theatre and his ability once again turned heads. The MMA star has been training full time in pro wrestling only since June, at Pro Wrestling Revolution in San Jose, California.
Velasquez has been doing it all with multiple torn ligaments in his left knee, an injury he suffered in a knockout loss to Francis Ngannouat UFC Phoenix in February.
Velasquez (14-3) is one of the most accomplished fighters in UFC history. He won the UFC heavyweight belt in 2010, and then again in 2012. Velasquez owns victories over the likes of Junior Dos Santos(twice), Antonio Rodrigo Nogueiraand Lesnar. Injuries to his knees, back and shoulders marred his run atop the division. Velasquez has fought just three times since 2013. He dropped the heavyweight title to Fabricio Werdumin 2015 and rebounded to beat Travis Browneat UFC 200 in 2016.
In 2018, Velasquez trained at WWE’s Performance Centerto see if he could physically work a match in the ring. He drew rave reviews from coaches there, but things didn’t work out at that time with WWE as far as a contract, and he ended up signing a short-term deal with AAA.
After his two appearances for AAA in August and September, Velasquez saw the interest in him increase. WWE came back to the table.
“We’ve talked a little bit back and forth and nothing happened,” Velasquez said. “They wanted to see my development. I think they’re pleased with what I’m doing now.”
Velasquez’s interest in pro wrestling comes at a particularly busy moment in pro wrestling history. The emergence of AEW, owned by the Khan family, which also owns the Jacksonville Jaguars and Fulham FC, is the first major effort to enter a space dominated by WWE for 20 years. Additionally, WWE signed TV contracts valued at over $1 billion to bring SmackDown to Fox and extend Monday Night Raw on the USA Network.
Velasquez would join the likes of Lesnar and Ronda Rouseyas former UFC champions in WWE. WWE also has UFC veterans Matt Riddleand Shayna Baszlerunder contract.
“This is definitely my focus,” Velasquez said of pro wrestling. “My family is into it, they love it. They’re super excited. I haven’t seen them excited over something like this in a while. It’s cool.”
The 35-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist and a former UFCHeavyweight Champion.has reportedly agreed to fight Francis Ngannou at UFC 239on July 6 in Las Vegas, according to ESPN.
The fight isn’t signed just yet, sources say, but is expected to be in the coming days.
This marks the second time the promotion has attempted to book this matchup. It was originally scheduled for UFC 215in September 2017, but it was ultimately canceled after the United States Anti-Doping Agencyprovisionally suspended Dos Santos for a possible performance-enhancing drug violation.
Dos Santos was ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing when it was determined he unknowingly ingested a contaminated supplement that contained a banned substance.
Dos Santos (21-5) has won his past three fights. He most recently defeated Derrick Lewis via second-round TKOearlier this month.
Ngannou (13-3) is on a two-fight winning streak. The 32-year-old is coming off a 26-second knockout of Cain Velasquez in February.
The event, which will be headlined by Jon Jones vs. Thiago Santos for the UFC light heavyweight title, will take place at T-Mobile Arenain Las Vegas. It will also feature Amanda Nunes vs. Holly Holm for the UFC bantamweight title.
Cain Velasquez has exacted revenge on the man who gave him his only career loss…
The 30-year-old Mexican American mixed martial arts fighter reclaimed his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight title Saturday night, after thoroughly battering Junior dos Santos in a lopsided unanimous decision.
Velasquez (11-1) took control of the rematch right away, flooring the Brazilian champion with a big right hand midway through the first round. Velasquez spent most of the match stalking and pounding on dos Santos (15-2), who never fully recovered from the first-round shot that left him swollen and woozy.
“I was so tired, but I had to endure,” said Velasquez. “My coaches and everybody helped me so much. He’s tough, too. … It feels so good to get this. This is my wife’s Christmas present. I promised her I would do this.”
Velasquez won every round on every judge’s scorecard in the UFC’s traditional year-end event. The three judges scored the bout for Velasquez 50-45, 50-44 and 50-43. The Associated Press also favored Velasquez 50-44, giving a 10-8 advantage to Velasquez in the first round.
dos Santos took the UFC belt away from Velasquez in November 2011 in just 64 seconds, earning a first-round stoppage victory with one vicious overhand right in Anaheim, Californua. Velasquez refused to blame a knee injury for his only defeat – but in the rematch, he demonstrated exactly what he can do at full strength.
“I knew that Junior was a tough striker and he was able to end our last fight that way, so I was prepared for him this time,” said Velasquez. “I was able to effectively use my striking and my grappling to control him throughout the fight and get the title back.”
A record12,423 fans bought $3.2 million in tickets at the MGM Grand Garden to see the second meeting between the two.