Cain Velasquez Honored to be Part of UFC on FOX Debut

UFC heavyweigth champion Cain Velasquez

Heavyweight champion readying for return to Anaheim

Earlier in the day, an excited Dana White announced that Cain Velasquez would meet #1 contender Junior dos Santos on the company’s debut on FOX at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. The UFC President likened the bout to the historic bout between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar that closed out season 1 of The Ultimate Fighter and introduced the sport to a whole new collection of fans.

The UFC heavyweight champion clearly understands the magnitude of the opportunity being placed in front of him on November 12.

“Something like this has never been done before and I’m happy to be a part of it; I’m happy to be the one the UFC has chosen to do this,” said the 29-year-old Velasquez, speaking with Heavy MMA Friday afternoon. “I’m definitely excited about this. I think it’s a great opportunity, not just for me, but for the UFC and the whole sport, to take this thing even more mainstream than it already is. I definitely did want to fight in San Jose, but this is huge.”

This bout was originally slated to take place at UFC 139, the organization’s first trip to San Jose, home of American Kickboxing Academy, the gym Velasquez has called home from the outset of his fighting career. Though he admits there is some disappointment in missing out on the homecoming, he’s definitely looking forward to making the trip down to Anaheim.

“I did want to fight in San Jose; I was definitely looking forward to it — the first show here at The HP (Pavilion) — but this is a great opportunity for me and the sport, and I’m happy to take it.”

While fighting in front of his friends and family in his hometown is still something Velasquez would like to do in the future, shifting this fight to Anaheim brings him back to the site of his greatest achievement to date as a fighter.

It was in the Honda Center last October that Velasquez dominated Brock Lesnar and claimed the UFC heavyweight championship. A year later, he gets to return to put his belt on the line for the first time.

“Fans in Anaheim were great and it’s going to be good to return there and defend my title,” said Velasquez, who is already in the gym starting to prepare for his meeting with dos Santos.

Moving the fight to the debut show on FOX bumps it up a week on the calendar, something Velasquez said will have little impact on his preparations.

“You know, it just bumps everything up a week. I usually start my camp really hard eight weeks out, so I’ll be starting a week earlier now, which is fine. I’m in the gym now; I’m in here every day, three times a day. The only thing I’m not doing right now is five rounds of sparring; I’m doing three, so that’s the only thing that will change. It’s definitely not a big deal.”

One of the lingering questions surrounding the champion is his surgically repaired shoulder. Velasquez went under the knife following his win over Lesnar, but has remained diligent in following his doctor’s orders, as hard as that was at times.

“I feel great. I’m happy with the surgery and the way everything turned out. It was hard when I had the surgery and pretty much couldn’t do anything other than listen to the doctor, but now I’m glad that I did that; I’m glad that I stuck it out. I feel like I’m already there; I feel like I’m back to where I was beforehand. Maybe pick my strength up a little more, but that’s it. I think some of my technique has gotten better too.”

In addition to using his time away from the cage to rebuild the strength in his shoulder and sharpen his skills, Velasquez has also taken time to study his opponent, and had nothing but complimentary things to say about dos Santos.

“With the time off, it has definitely given me the time to heal up myself, but also to watch film on him. Junior has always looked good in his previous fights. His boxing, his technique, and his power has always been there and always looked good. I’m definitely expecting the best Junior out there; he’s hungry right now and he definitely wants what I have.”

White had said during the media call earlier in the day that selecting this fight to launch the UFC on FOX was about more than the heavyweight championship. It also came down to Velasquez and dos Santos being two fighters who always perform and deliver exciting fights.

With everything riding on this fight, you could understand if either fighter felt pangs of pressure before the cage door closes. Velasquez is not worried, and knows that he and dos Santos will deliver the kind of fight everyone is hoping for.

“I never really think about having to go out and perform. We have a game plan going in, and I know that I have to do what I’ve been training for with the game plan. Me and Junior have great fights; we’re not boring fighters. We take game plans in expecting to execute them, so it doesn’t make a boring fight.

“We’re not the type of guys that are going to stand back and try to make this fight go to the judges; that’s not our fighting style.”

That’s exactly what White, the UFC and FOX are banking on.