There are multiple hazards when one is to embark in the competition of MMA. UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez (13-1) has done his best to hurdle a majority of the main obstacles in the sport in his quest to become a reigning and defending champion.
However Velasquez gets bit by the nagging injury bug more times than he or his fans would like. The proud Mexiacan-American champion has fought only 7 times in 4 years for the UFC and he has had the same amount of surgeries on his withering body as his fight count in that time period.
Cain has been poked and prodded all over like a game of Operation and has been opened up and looked at on his elbow, knee, right foot and shoulder. The right shoulder to be exact kept Velasquez from defending his newly won title after dismantling Brock Lesnar at UFC 121.
Then in his loss of the belt at UFC on Fox 1 to Junior Dos Santos it was revealed that Cain was not yet over a knee injury. Upon his return he won the rematch at UFC 155 and regained his title but he had to take a break from the action inside of the octagon for the most part of that year.
However even through the injuries, surgeries and time away Cain has established himself as a dominant Heavyweight Champion. He’s only had one bout go the distance in his title defenses and has won every round emphatically. Even though his last four bouts have been rematches or rubber matches.
Does this suggest that the UFC Heavyweight division is weak? In an interview with ESPN Velasquez briefly addressed his concerns on his injuries and how he feels about the UFC’s Heavyweight picture as his opinion on possible future opponents.
ESPN: You’ve been through this before — having to sit out for a year due to injury. What was the process like this time around?
Velasquez: I think it was less difficult this time because I had been through it before and I knew what to expect. There are plusses and minuses. One plus was that I got to be at home a little more. The minus, obviously, is I didn’t get to do the sport I love. I tried to keep positive and not push it too hard.
ESPN: All sports have athletes who, for one reason or another, can’t stay healthy. Are we there with you, yet? Do you think that’s fair or have you just been unlucky?
Velasquez: I really think it has to do with the way I train. If I’m hurt a little, I’m still going to train. I guess my head is pretty strong and I can push through pain, but it’s bad because it’s definitely messed up my body at times.
ESPN: Since October 2010, you have fought a full trilogy with Dos Santos and faced Antonio Silva twice. How nice is it to simply be preparing for someone new?
Velasquez: I guess when you put it that way, it is — but for me, it doesn’t matter. As long as I’m a champion and fighting for the belt, it’s fine. I think Dos Santos earned a shot to fight me and then after I lost, we knew we would have to do it one more time. Then Silva, he got two big wins so it made sense to fight him a second time. As long as the fights make sense and guys earn their way to the title, it’s fine.
ESPN: Usually, when a champion sits out a year, there is a long list of potential guys to fight when he returns. If you beat Werdum, there really isn’t an obvious “next.” What do you think about the state of the division?
Velasquez: I think there will always be somebody to fight. For me, I focus on the guy I have now and I’m sure someone will pop up. That’s what I’m waiting and pretty much hoping for.
ESPN: As a champion, would you ever ask for a specific opponent?
Velasquez: It depends. If you’re the champion, you pretty much have to take the fights that come to you. I think everybody has to earn their sport and if they’re the No. 1 contender, that’s fine with me.
ESPN: Another thing that has happened in the sport during your absence are a few high-profile failed random drug tests. What are your thoughts on it and would you ever demand random drug testing ahead of one of your fights?
Velasquez: If I felt one of my opponents was dirty, then yeah. Why not? If we’re both doing it during camp, then definitely. I’m all for more testing. Keep it coming.
Cain will match wits with the current number one contender for his strap, Fabricio Werdum (18-5-1) on TUF Latin America and after the culmination of the show the pair will square off for the gold.