Back in December of 2016, former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez was scheduled to rematch a fellow former champ in Fabricio Werdum. The winner of this fight was expected to challenge reigning champ Stipe Miocic for the heavyweight crown.
Unfortunately, Velasquez was forced out of this anticipated heavyweight showdown with an injury just days before it was supposed to go down. This marked the latest incident in the long string of injuries that have marred the recent years of his otherwise incredible career.
In a recent appearance on BJ Penn Radio, UFC heavyweight Ben Rothwell, who lost to Velasquez in 2009, spoke on Velasquez’s many injuries, what they will mean for the former champ’s future, and how it all effects the larger heavyweight division.
“It’s really tough to say [what the future holds for Velasquez] but based on what we hear circulating, it doesn’t sound good,” Rothwell began.
“I don’t want him to leave because that’s a guy I’ve always thought I’d cross paths with again. He’s a big name and I’ve never got to fight any of the guys that I’ve lost to. I’ve had ten losses and I’ve never been able to get one of those back. Cain and Junior [Dos Santos] are two guys ranked in front that I’ve lost to and the two guys I could make that up with, it’s one of them. If I only could fight one of them I think it would have to be Cain because that one really pisses me off. It pissed me off what he did with the title, where he sat on it for a couple years and really messed up the heavyweight division. I think he learned how to milk it. For him and his family and his finances, it was great for him, but it screwed everything up for the rest of us. I like guys that step up and stay active and give people their shot at the belt. Just because we’ve seen champions in other divisions do as such, they kind of set the bar and I feel like he should hold himself to that standard.”
Ben Rothwell then commentated on the trend of Velasquez’s teammates of American Kickboxing Academy also withdrawing from fights with injuries.
“How many guys have pulled out of major fights from that camp? And hey, I can’t say that you don’t get injured because I’ve been there. It’s part of the sport, especially at our level and training so hard. It’s just that it happens so much there. You’ve had Luke pull out of a fight, Cormier pull out of a title fight and Cain has pulled out of several fights. It’s just really bad because I really wanted to see that fight [with Werdum] and a lot of people were pulling for Cain. It’s just really bad timing and messes up the division again.”
Though Rothwell isn’t particularly happy about Velasquez’s frequent injuries, he was quick to assure that he wishes the former champion nothing but good health.
“I heard he has to have back-to-back surgeries in under a year, it just sounds rough. I wish the guy the best and I hope he can come back. He’s obviously a warrior but I hear that it’s really bad and I don’t know what he’s got left. Only he knows that I guess.”
What do you think of Ben Rothwell’s comments on Cain Velasquez and American Kickboxing Academy? Sound off, PENN Nation!
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 2/6/2017.