On Oct. 23, 2010, Cain Velasquez made history. He was the first Mexican-American fighter to win the UFC Heavyweight Championship when he defeated Brock Lesnar in Anaheim, CA; a city with a large Hispanic population. The son of a man who immigrated to the United States illegally, Velasquez is not shy about his Mexican heritage and proudly wears it on his sleeve, or more specifically on his chest.
A tattoo that reads “Brown Pride” is sprawled across his collar and has been the basis for plenty of both praise and criticism. For many, the Old English designed art piece is gang affiliated and symbolic of a double standard, since a Caucasian fighter with “White Pride” engraved on their body would be looked at unfavorably. Others believe that Velasquez is a victim who has lost out on endorsement deals simply for displaying his Mexican roots.
While it has been a controversial topic for the UFC, the issue came to a head once again this week when Velasquez was omitted from the list of candidates for the EA Sports UFC cover. Of 16 fighters nominated, the heavyweight champ was not one. He has not publicly commented on his decision to opt out of the game, but speculation suggests that it is because of his tattoo.
In a conference call last Tuesday, Dana White shot down those rumors.
“I would like Cain to be in there, but I think there were other reasons for Cain not coming to a deal,” White said. “I just think that Cain felt that he’s the heavyweight champion, and he doesn’t want to be in a vote to see if he should be on the cover. I think that was his [mindset], and what am I going to do about that? Am I going to disagree with him? He’s like, ‘I’m the heavyweight champion. I’ve got to be voted on whether I should be on the cover of the game? The heavyweight champ? If you don’t think I should be, then I don’t want to be in a vote.’ I can’t blame him for that.”
White has staunchly defended the tattoo in the past, more so in the days leading up to UFC 155 and the nationally televised UFC on Fox 1. For his part, Velasquez has said that there are two reasons for his art work: it is a symbol of struggles his family went through coming to the U.S., and a reminder to aspiring fighters that there are Mexican role models worth looking up to.
“Nobody has a problem with [the tattoo],” White added. “Only idiots on the internet have a problem with that,” White said.