Cain Velasquez is focusing full time on his pro wrestling career, and will face Brock Lesnar at WWE Crown Jewel later this month.
While MMA retirements are often fickle, Cain Velasquez appears to have closed the door on his fighting career. At least for now. In a press conference Friday at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, the WWE paraded out Velasquez, as well as Brock Lesnar, Tyson Fury, and Braun Strowman, to announced their involvement at Saudi Arabia’s Crown Jewel.
Velasquez made his on-screen WWE debut last week on WWE SmackDown, when he appeared alongside Rey Mysterio and stormed the ring to take on Lesnar, the man he won the UFC heavyweight title from in 2010. He’d previously dabbled in pro wrestling with Mexico’s AAA, where he impressed with an acrobatic, luchador-inspired style.
Velasquez (14-3) last fought in January at UFC on ESPN 1, where he was finished by Francis Ngannou in just 26 seconds. A two-time WWE champion, Velasquez is known for memorable fights with Lesnar, Bigfoot Silva, Travis Browne, and his trilogy with Junior Dos Santos. However, repeated injuries frequently stalled his MMA career.
Whether they impact his stint in the wrestling world remains to be seen. Velasquez was wearing a knee brace during his initial WWE appearance. However, he seems all-in on the venture, stating in a media scrum following the press conference that “as of right now, the chapter is closed on my MMA career.” He’d add that “I’m focusing on the task at hand with the WWE. I love this sport. I’ve rebirthed myself into reliving it and loving it again. I’m all in on doing this. I’m diving deep into doing this, and this is what I’m doing for right now.” (via MMA Junkie).
Velasquez was previously reported as having been removed from the USADA testing pool. On Friday, he also spoke to UFC President Dana White’s reaction to his transition to pro wrestling. “He just supported me 100 percent. It was just a good, respectful talk that we had,” said Velasquez. “He thanked me for everything that I did. I thanked him and the company for everything that they did. He just gave me his full blessing. He said, ‘This is awesome, what you’re doing. Go ahead, you have my full consent to go ahead and do what you want to do.’”
WWE’s Crown Jewel event, where Velasquez will face Lesnar, and Strowman will face Fury, takes place October 31, 2019 at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.