The UFC on Fox kicks off on November 12th in Anaheim, California with a heavyweight championship bout for the ages between Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos. Today, the countdown continues with a look back at the champion’s five biggest UFC wins.
UFC 83 - TKO1 Brad Morris
If you had the opportunity to speak to the American Kickboxing Academy’s Javier Mendez back in 2006, you probably would have heard about Cain Velasquez two years before his UFC debut, and not just because he was a two-time All-American wrestler at Arizona State, but because he was the Next Big Thing in the sport. It was a lot to throw on the shoulders of the soft-spoken Velasquez, but when he entered the Octagon in his third pro fight to face Brad Morris, he fought like he had been here for years, stopping his foe in 2:10 before a packed house at Montreal’s Bell Centre. Big fights, big crowds? They would soon become routine for Mr. Velasquez.
Quotable - “I’m non-stop, I don’t get tired out there, my game is good all-around, and I want people to see that I’m gonna be the next big thing. That’s what I want people to keep thinking about, that they can’t wait to see me fight again.”
UFC 99 - W3 Cheick Kongo
Though it’s gotten lost in the shuffle of his spectacular knockouts of Minotauro Nogueira and Brock Lesnar, the fight where Cain Velasquez grew up was against French striker Cheick Kongo. The decision read 30-27 across the board for Velasquez, but before he got to that point he had to pick himself up off the canvas after eating some hellacious shots from Kongo. But as we saw that night, when hurt, Velasquez was instinctively able to go back to what he knew best, and once he got Kongo to the mat, it was time to unload his ground strikes. On this night, you got the feeling Mendez was right – Velasquez was something special.
Quotable - “People can say what they want to say, but the book’s unwritten yet, and nothing is for sure. Anything can happen and I’ve got to keep putting in the work in the gym, keep getting better, and keep winning fights. They can say all they want to say, but if I don’t win the fights, and do it impressively, then all that talk won’t be heard anymore.”
UFC 104 - TKO2 Ben Rothwell
Poor Ben Rothwell. The seasoned vet finally gets his call to the UFC, and who does he get to face first? Velasquez. And in California no less. So while the odds were stacked against “Big Ben,” Velasquez made everything that much worse with a second round TKO victory that kept his unbeaten record intact and set the stage for even bigger and better things in 2010.
Quotable - “I’m ready for anything. I’m gonna have to fight those guys (the top contenders) eventually, so I feel ready, and I’m gonna keep improving no matter what. It’s time to go.”
UFC 110 - KO1 Minotauro Nogueira
Like Junior dos Santos’ respect for Mirko Cro Cop leading into their bout, Velasquez felt the same way about Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Yeah, he may not have been the same guy who won the PRIDE heavyweight title, but he was still Minotauro and still dangerous. So Velasquez did what you do the moment you see an opening against a dangerous opponent – you get him out of there. In the Acer Arena that afternoon in Sydney, you could hear the left hook that sent Nogueira down and out. That’s power.
Quotable - “I’m doing the same thing that I’ve always done with all my other fights. I never look ahead. I always look at the task at hand and I’m doing the same thing with this fight. I don’t see that after this I could fight for the title; I see him and I know I have to beat him. And what happens after that, happens.”
UFC 121 - TKO1 Brock Lesnar
2010’s Velasquez vs. Lesnar bout had all the drama and all the question marks you want from a big time heavyweight championship bout, and while Lesnar provided the drama with an all-out assault on his challenger at the opening bell, Velasquez delivered the answers to all questions about being too small to beat a giant like Lesnar, as he knocked the big man out in the seconds round to become the UFC heavyweight champion of the world.
Quotable - “We knew he was gonna come out with a lot of pressure, but we didn’t think he was gonna come out that hard. It definitely did surprise me and I got into that brawl mode after that, but I just had to tell myself to relax and get back into the fight.”
Cain Velasquez' Top Five Octagon Moments
Cain Velasquez defends his UFC heavyweight title against Junior dos Santos on Fox on November 12th...