by Anthony Hardin Sr., June 17, 2010
It was not supposed to be this easy for Cain Velasquez. Just eight fights into his mixed martial arts career, six of them in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and he is poised to challenge for the Heavyweight Championship. Quite an impressive feat coming from a guy that does not consider himself “a good athlete”. No, Cain knows struggle. And from this struggle, the two-time High School State Champion, Junior College Champion and back to back PAC 10 All-American has proven that work ethic, and being “Coachable” can take you a long way. But do not be fooled by Cain Velasquez. Beneath the Polite, well grounded and intelligent exterior, lies and very calculated warrior. And this warrior has devastating strikes and a demoralizing ground game. Yes, Cain Velasquez is a nice guy. But this “nice guy” is on a meteoric rise through the UFC Heavyweight division. I recently spent time with the Worlds #3 Ranked Heavyweight Fighter. What I walked away with, was a better idea of what made him tick and just how much his future opponents should be worried. Now I have been wrong about a multitude of things in my life. But if I was a betting man, I would bet the “Farm” that Cain Velasquez will win the UFC Heavyweight Championship. And it will be a very long time before he ever gives it up.
How did you get involved in MMA?
My junior year in college, I told my coach Tom Ortiz, that I wanted to start fighting after I was done with wrestling. He said to finish the season, focus on school and get my degree. When the time comes, he would get me in touch with the right people. He is real good friends with my now Manager, DeWayme Zinkin. So I was introduced to him (Zinkin). Before I graduated I came out here for like a week to train. I loved it. I went back home, got my degree, packed my stuff in my car and drove out here to San Jose.
How did you end up in Iowa Central Community College?
My old Coach Shawn Rustad left my junior year to go to Phoenix and then another guy came in to coach my High School squad, and he was from Iowa. His name is Marty Niblo. He was from Iowa, and my grades weren’t good enough to go to college right away, so Marty knew a guy at Iowa Central. I took a trip out there and liked it.
What did you get your degree in College in?
So you were going to be a teacher?
I wanted to coach. I did not know what I what I wanted to do when I got to college, I just wanted to wrestle and after I was done with wrestling, I wanted to coach or still compete. I thought that if I got my degree in Education I would coach.
Why do wrestlers so easily make a transition to MMA?
Training, the long season and the background make it a natural progression. Being able to take the fight wherever you want to because of your wrestling skills is a huge advantage.
What did your family think when you told them of your decision to be a fighter?
No one gave me any words of encouragement or wanted me to do this, except for my college coach.
Are you a fight fan?
I watch it all, MMA, Boxing, and K-1.
So are you a lifer in this sport?
Definitely. Now that I am in this sport, when I am done, I want to coach.
Who are your biggest inspirations? Who do you look to for inspiration?
My parents, for the way they grew up. Having to quit school and live the struggle. The way they made the best they could with what they had was really cool. My coaches. Javier Mendez is a big influence on me now. We have the same traits, same attitude. I look up to him. He told me early on that he’s never really wrong in this sport. If I tell you to do it, do it.
Who was your idol growing up?
I didn’t really have one, because no one looked like me. There were no big Mexican guys looking like me. But I liked Julio Cesar Chavez. Any Mexican Boxer that fought I definitely followed them.
How important is it to you to click with your trainer?
I’ve been blessed to have really good coaches since High School. They are good friends of mine. I’ve just done what they said. They know what they are doing. This is my job, and I do what I am told.
How do you describe your life’s journey? Give me one word to describe it.
I don’t think I can describe it in one word. I’ve been to a lot of places and I’ve been blessed. I have my parents’ work ethic and it’s taken me a long way. I’m not a good athlete, but the time I have put in has paid off.
To see the rest of the article, make sure you pick up the magazine here.