After listening to a recent conversation between Joe Rogan and Mike Tyson, Chael Sonnen began to think about who the scariest fighter in MMA history is — and in the multi-time UFC title challenger’s eyes, it isn’t all that close of a competition.
“The scariest fighter in MMA history: I had, with a pretty sizable gap, Cain Velasquez,” Sonnen said on his podcast You’re Welcome. “He had the whole bit: He lad the look, he had the eyes, he had the jawline, the stoicness, the rumors and reputation, the work ethic. He had the record, he had the knockouts, the collegiate résumé. But there was something scary about a big guy that had the level of conditioning. We don’t see that very often, not that level, not where they can be on you that hard, non-stop.”
Velasquez went on to become a two-time UFC heavyweight champion before retiring from the sport in October 2019 to pivot into the world of professional wrestling. He ended his MMA career with a pro record of 14-3.
It wasn’t just the fighting style and overall tenacity of Velasquez that made him so scary in Sonnen’s eyes, but it was also the stories and legends that would circulate around the MMA community about Velasquez before he even had his first professional fight.
“There’s a story, and it’s never died down, where Cain Velasquez goes into AKA and it’s his first day,” Sonnen said. “He’s trying to introduce himself, or get the attention of Javier Mendez, and Javier is working with somebody when this guy is coming over and trying to talk to him. Javier wants to give him [attention], but he’s doing something.
“The third time Cain comes back to interrupt, Javier tells this guy, who he has yet to meet, ‘Go kick that bag 1,000 times and then come see me.’ In a way, it was kind of, ‘Get out of here, leave me alone, I’m doing something.’ And that guy [Velasquez] went over and kicked that bag 1,000 times.
“I do believe something like that happened.”
Other names mentioned in Sonnen’s monologue were Alistair Overeem and Brock Lesnar, but in the end, “The American Gangster” believes the title of scariest fighter of all-time is likely a two-horse race between Velasquez and current UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou.
“If we went head-to-head and I wanted to argue Cain, and you wanted to argue Francis, you could always tell me Francis knocked out Cain, right? That debate is going to go on,” Sonnen explained. “We’re not talking about who the best is, or who’s the most effective, or who has the most beautiful résumé. [We’re talking] scary. It’s a unique word.
“My opinion? Velasquez.”
Velasquez currently faces multiple charges after allegedly engaging in an 11-mile high-speed chase back in February while pursuing a car containing Harry Goularte, a man accused of molesting Velasquez’s son at a daycare facility owned by his mother. Velasquez allegedly pursued the vehicle while firing multiple rounds from a .40 caliber handgun.
Goularte’s stepfather Paul Bender was ultimately struck by a bullet and suffered non-life threatening injuries as a result of the alleged attack.
Velasquez was later arrested without incident and charged with attempted, premeditated murder. The 40-year-old spent several months in jail before being granted bail following multiple denials. He is scheduled back in court on March 8, where a trial date is expected to be announced. Velasquez could face life in prison if found guilty.