Velasquez on the rise!
Story by Anthony Springer Jr.
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, it’s been impossible to miss the ascent of Cain Velasquez (6-0, 4-0 UFC) up the ranks of the UFC’s heavyweight division.
The 6’1, 240-pound fighter made a big splash from the moment he entered the Octagon, stopping Brad Morris at UFC 84 via TKO. Victories over Jake O’Brien and Dennis Stojnic followed and suddenly, the relative unknown fighter from American Kickboxing Academy found his name mentioned among the elite heavyweights.
A UFC 99 victory over dangerous striker Cheick Kongo put everyone on notice that failed to take note: Cain Velasquez has arrived. The young gun weathered some heavy shots from Kongo en route to a dominant unanimous decision victory. Questions about Velasquez’ chin and cardio were answered, and few could argue that he was one or two wins away from a title shot.
This Saturday’s co-main event pits the rising star against a veteran in Ben Rothwell. Call it a coming out party of sorts. With a win, Velasquez could arguably find himself the number one contender to the heavyweight throne. A loss gives naysayers the ammunition they need to say the 27-year-old is not ready for prime time.
With so much seemingly on the young man’s shoulders, it’d be easy to think he can’t handle the pressure.
Velasquez begs to differ.
“For me, no there isn’t [any pressure],” he says. “I have a job to do in the ring, in the cage and I know I’ve got t do my job here at the gym. Pretty much go out there and win impressively and if I don’t do that then you know whatever anybody said about me is pretty much nothing. I’ve got to go out and win….and win impressively and make those comments count.”
An impressive win over Rothwell will be no easy task. At an impressive 30-6, “Big” Ben has been around the block a time or two. In addition to the experience factor, Rothwell will likely tip the heavyweight scales at the maximum 265-pounds, making him the largest challenger Velasquez has faced to date.
According to the San Jose fighter, his last outing with Kongo was the perfect precursor to this co-main event showdown. “I think Ben’s more well-rounded…and they’re both dangerous on their feet,” Velazquez notes when asked to size up the similarities and differences of Kongo and Rothwell.
“What I’ve learned from it, from the previous fight, [is] just to be more relaxed out there and just let loose.”
A relaxed and loose Velasquez spells trouble for Rothwell. In addition to knockout power, Velasquez is a hell of a wrestler as well. Expect a lot of fireworks once the bell rings.
“I think it’s going to be an exciting fight for sure,” Velasquez adds.
So do we.