Should Daniel Cormier become the UFC heavyweight champion on July 7, it could create a bridge that he and former heavyweight king Cain Velasquez will have to cross when the time comes for it. The two are longtime friends and teammates at the American Kickboxing Academy, and Cormier’s success could directly interfere with Velasquez’s plans to once again reign supreme in the UFC’s biggest weight class.
Velasquez has not fought since July 2016 and does not currently have a fight booked. Though he is a perennial contender given his history as a two-time champion and a record that includes just two losses against 14 victories, Velasquez’s inability to stay healthy has led to fighters like current champion Stipe Miocic surpassing him both in the Octagon and in the record books.
It was Miocic who recently defeated Francis Ngannou by unanimous decision at UFC 220 to pick up his record-breaking third consecutive successful defense of the heavyweight title. Not long after that triumph, it was announced that Miocic’s next defense will be against Cormier, the UFC’s light heavyweight champion, at UFC 226 on July 7.
Shortly after that news broke, Velasquez sent out a tweet that left some wondering what his plans will be after the winner of that superfight emerges:
Like always, I'm gonna be in the gym everyday to help my brother @dc_mma become the next heavyweight champ at #UFC226. Once he wins, things could get interesting. #AndNew #WeAreAKA #GonnaGetMyBeltBack— Cain Velasquez (@cainmma) January 27, 2018
On Monday, Velasquez appeared on The MMA Hour to provide some clarification.
“What did I mean by that?” Velasquez said. “Things could get interesting, man. He’s at heavyweight, I’m at heavyweight. What am I gonna drop down? I don’t know. Things could get interesting, yes. We don’t know how things are going to play out. I think it’s cool what he’s doing, he’s going up in weight, but s**t he’s fought there before at heavyweight so he’s gonna do it again.”
Velasquez’s comments echoed those of Cormier who earlier appeared on the same episode of The MMA Hour. “DC” joked that maybe Velasquez was hinting at a move to the 205-pound division as opposed to a battle between friends at heavyweight.
It’s a suggestion that Velasquez himself seemed to take lightly, though he does believe he can make the weight should he ever have to go down that road.
“If I had to do it, I could do it,” Velasquez said. “I think it would be hard, but it’s just the will of the person. If I really want to do something, I could do it. Again, things could get interesting, so we’re just going off of that and we’re just going to play it by ear. First things first, helping him get ready, me get ready, and then getting that job done in July, both of us.”
If it were up to Velasquez, both he and Cormier would fight on UFC 226 so that they could coordinate their training camps and work together to prepare for the event. Velasquez has no qualms about Cormier vying for the title that he himself has vowed to regain.
“We talked about it and I’m all for it, I support Daniel 100 percent,” Velasquez said. “I feel like I just have to go back and prove myself. I have to get a fight and show people why everyone should fear me, so I have to go out there, I have to look impressive. I do plan on fighting again, I’ve never had talks of a retirement. Not yet. I still want to do this.
“He called me up, he told me that he had this opportunity. I was just like, ‘Yes, we can do it.’ We can get ready together, that’s the best for us. He’s fighting on that card in July, I’m going to try to get on that, hopefully. I think that would be perfect and enough time for me to get on that card and me and Daniel can train together and get ready together because when we do that, that’s when we are the best.
“I think it’s a very good scenario, it’s perfect for Daniel, I think he can pull this off and s**t, I’m going to make it my priority to go out there and train with him so he does get that W. He will, he will get that W.”
Even if Velasquez is able to get booked on the same card as Cormier, he’s not planning to switch weight classes with his teammate just yet. Having been out of competition for 18 months, he’s looking to return “comfortably” at heavyweight before making any drastic changes. And regardless of what happens at UFC 226, any talk of him ever meeting Cormier in the Octagon appears to be off the table.
“Would I ever fight (Cormier)? No, I wouldn’t,” Velasquez said. “I wouldn’t fight him. I think he feels the same way. We’re teammates, we’re friends, we’ve done a lot with each other. I think it would be easy, me and him, just because we spar so much, s**t, it would just be another day at the office.”