When Cain Velasquez defeated Junior Dos Santos for the second time in late 2013, the sky looked like the limit. The Mexican-American heavyweight champion had come out on top in one of the greatest rivalries in heavyweight history, and was poised to move on to new and exciting challenges.
Unfortunately, Velasquez then spent almost two years on the injury list, slowing the evolution of the heavyweight division he ruled, and forcing the UFC to crown an interim champion in Fabricio Werdum in his absence.
At UFC 188, Velasquez had the perfect opportunity to reassert himself as the one true king of the heavyweights. He was scheduled for a title-unifying showdown in Mexico City, the capital of his ancestral homeland.
Unfortunately, Velasquez’s long-awaited return to action turned out to be a fairly significant disaster for him. Though he began the fight on a high note, his legendary cardio quickly faded, as his energy was sapped by the high altitude of Mexico City. From there, it was all Werdum, who battered Velasquez on feet, and eventually locked up a rear-naked choke for the title-synching win.
Given the way that Velasquez was foiled by the very country he represents, one might assume he’s in no rush to return there. In a recent interview with MMA Fighting, however, the talented heavyweight clarified that he’d love to return, but he’d be sure to prepare differently if he did.
“If the opportunity would come up, yeah, I would go there,” Velasquez said on a a recent episode of The MMA Hour. “I would be prepared and do my whole training camp out there and get a win in front of them. I would have to do the whole thing. I would feel much better, me and my whole team, to be out there, and training out there and do whole training camp out there. I think it’s that big of a difference to be going there early. Two weeks just wasn’t enough [time to adjust to the altitude], it needs to be whole training camp out there, eight weeks, nine weeks in training.
The most important thing for Velasquez, however, is how the Mexican fans feel about him, and that, he says, doesn’t depend on wins or losses. They’re behind him through thick and thin.
“It’s always good to go there and get a win, but going around in Mexico City, walking around and seeing the people there, they’re big fans of the sport and I would say I’m their favorite, you know?” Velasquez told Ariel Helwani on the show. “I love to be that person, I love that I am that person, I think a win would have been much better, obviously. But do I feel a difference, if I would have won or lost between the people? I’d say no because the people there are so humble they love you whether you lost or you won. They’re always behind you.”
Do you think Cain Velasquez would have defeated Fabricio Werdum in Mexico City if he’d taken more time to adjust to the altitude? Who are you picking in their rumored rematched? Sound off, PENN nation!