Cain Velasquez accomplished a lot during his UFC career, but he will still likely go down as one of the greatest what-ifs in the history of the sport.
Despite two separate reigns as UFC heavyweight champion, the now 41-year-old retired veteran spent most of his career sidelined by a myriad of injuries. He only fought three times in a calendar year one time during his UFC career, and had three years — 2014, 2017, and 2018 — when he didn’t compete at all.
In those rare moments when Velasquez was completely healthy, he was a force of nature who tore through nearly every heavyweight thrown in his path. UFC Hall of Famer Daniel Cormier, who counts Velasquez as one of his closest friends after serving as teammates throughout his career, knows that at his best, Velasquez was almost unstoppable.
“I tell you, nobody wanted those Cain Velasquez problems,” Cormier told MMA Fighting. “If that dude was healthy and ready to go, I still believe he was the best fighter. Ask me, ask Khabib [Nurmagomedov], ask the guys that saw him in the gym when he was healthy and he was good, nobody was like Cain.”
Even with so much of his career derailed by injuries, Velasquez still amassed an impressive 12-3 record in the UFC, including four wins in title fights.
After he first arrived in the UFC from Strikeforce as a heavyweight, Cormier made the decision to drop down to 205 pounds so he wouldn’t face a scenario where he’d have to clash with Velasquez.
“Think about his accolades, and he had to miss five or six years in the middle of his prime due to injury,” Cormier said. “Crazy.
“He was the best. I’m telling you right now, he’s one of those guys that everyone calls the best — this dude was the best. He was better than me, for sure.”
Cormier did achieve one thing Velasquez never did by capturing both the heavyweight and light heavyweight titles in the UFC. While there was little chance Velasquez would’ve ever considered a similar change in weight classes, he did briefly flirt with the idea of taking on another champion after he engaged in a friendly faceoff with Jon Jones at a UFC press conference.
There was no animosity between them, but Velasquez as heavyweight champion taking on Jones as light heavyweight champion would have been big business even back then. Even Cormier admits he wished he had the chance to see how that would have unfolded.
“That’s one we missed,” Cormier said of Velasquez vs. Jones. “That would have been a good one.”
Get the latest gear
- 2023 Panini Prizm UFC Factory Sealed Retail Blaster Box
- 2023 Panini Select UFC Factory Sealed Retail Blaster Box
- Islam Makhachev Walkout Jersey
- UFC Fanatics Single Glove Display Case
- 2022 Panini Donruss Optic Retail Blaster Box
- 2023 Donruss UFC Retail Blaster Box
- Miesha Tate UFC Authentic Plaque
- Brock Lesnar WWE Home Sweet Home Collage