On the greatness of Cain Velasquez and why he needs to fight at least one more time.
Cain Velasquez could have been the best heavyweight of all time. Cain Velasquez should have been the greatest heavyweight off all time. When he had one professional fight, people knew this. It seems like hyperbole, but it really isn’t. The moment he stepped foot into the American Kickboxing Academy, the people there knew it. The people who saw him train, even before he had his first fight, they knew it too. After his second professional fight, Dana White saw him train, didn’t even need to see him beat the breaks off of Jesse Fujarczyk or Jeremiah Constant, and yelled at Joe Silva for not signing him earlier. Everyone knew.
The WWE recently released some footage of Cain training at their Performance Center. It was, in a word, interesting. Cain hasn’t, as far as we know, signed with the WWE and no signs point to that happening soon. We shouldn’t expect him to show up on Raw anytime soon. But it does signal that Cain’s time in MMA is either over or nearing an end. The thing is, he still might be, despite all of the injuries, despite all the missed time, the best in the world. He still could have a very real path to becoming the best heavyweight ever. He is that kind of talent, a truly once in a lifetime kind of fighter.
Cain Velasquez is perhaps the most violent fighter of all time, even more so than Wanderlei Silva who I wrote about before in this space. In my mind, no person in the history of MMA has done more damage, caused more deleterious effects on his opponent than Cain Velasquez. Fighting Cain seems to take years off of your life and decrease your quality of life significantly. Cain Velasquez fights for keeps.
Look no further than Junior Dos Santos, who has had the misfortune of fighting Cain Velasquez three times. JDS was able to win the first fight, perhaps due to an injury Cain sustained prior to the fight, and it may have led to the two most disastrous nights of his life. If he had just lost to Cain, maybe he would have never had to fight him again, never had to sustain 47 minutes of pure violence that Cain heaped on him. Because as great of fighter as Dos Santos has been post his losses to Cain, there is something missing, something Cain took from him. If you’ve ever seen Round 3 of their third fight, you can see why. And really, it is the case for everyone he’s ever fought. Travis Browne and Antonio Silva have a combined one win in their last 13 fights since they last lost to Cain, Silva in particular seems to have had his ability to lead what you would call a good life severely diminished. There are no close Cain Velasquez fight, there are fights where he either separates you from consciousness or fights where he punches you until the last bell rings and takes with him some essential part of your being. It is that violent, if it wasn’t shrouded in the idea of sport and competition it would be nothing short of barbaric.
As great and transcendent as he as a purveyor of violence, Cain Velasquez injury history is vast and well documented. It may end up being the defining component of his career. Most recently bone spurs in his back caused him to pull out of a fight against Fabricio Werdum in late 2016. He hasn’t had a fully healthy year since 2009, His knees are allegedly so bad that he needs CBD oil just to walk around. Not to mention a rotator cuff that he has injured at least 3 separate times. But here’s the thing, most of these injuries have been around for a while now, most of them were around when he fought Travis Browne. There’s a chance that he, despite all of these things, is still better than everyone else.
If he can get into the octagon to fight just one more time, and that is becoming an even bigger if as each day passes, he might have a chance to finally cement himself as the best heavyweight in the history of the UFC, if not MMA as a whole. Cain Velasquez needs to fight Stipe Miocic and Stipe Miocic needs to fight Cain Velasquez.
As things currently stand, Stipe is the greatest UFC heavyweight of all time. The only man to defend that title three times and an impressive set of wins that includes Fabricio Werdum, a sleeper candidate for the best heavyweight ever, and Allistair Overeem, perhaps the most decorated combat sports heavyweight in history. But Stipe’s run overlaps with Cain, the two have existed in essentially the same ecosystem for seven years and never crossed paths. That is why the fight needs to happen. Because eventually the best fighters in a division have to fight each other, it just has to happen. Chuck eventually fought Wanderlei, Fedor fought Sylvia and Arlovski, Anderson Silva fought Rich Franklin and Dan Henderson and all of those fights were from the days when there were two elite MMA organizations. We may not get the cross-division superfights that Lorenzo Ferrtitta promised nearly a decade ago, but we usually get to see the best fighters in a division fight. There is no reason Cain and Stipe shouldn’t have fought each other already.
There is the whole Daniel Cormier monkey wrench in this, and certainly he is factor in all of this, but the chances he fights his AKA teammate are slim and DC seems destined for a big money fight with Brock Lesnar and then a retirement filled with heaps of cash. So while we wait for DC to fight Brock, let’s at least answer one “what if.”
Before Cain goes to the WWE and headlines Wrestlemania against Braun Strowman, or just retires and fades off into the injury-plagued sunset, I need to see him fight one more time. I need to see him fight Stipe. I need to know that we were all right about him in 2010. I need to know that the dude I watched fight in BodogFight was as good as I thought he was. I need to know.