All too often in professional sports, we see superstar athletes buy into their own hype. After making it to the top of their profession, fame and fortune go to their heads and after time their humility may slowly fade away. However, this is not the case with the new UFC Heavyweight Champion, Cain Velasquez.
A very humble and gracious Velasquez spent a day in Toronto doing press and took the time to speak with Canadian MMA Examiner Mike Johnston. Although being in the spotlight is not why he got into the sport, Cain appreciates all the support he receives from the fans, including those in Canada. “They’re great MMA fans here,” said Velasquez. “They always love to watch the fights, so I mean there’s definitely a great following here, great fans, and a great place to fight at.”
The proud Mexican-American defeated Brock Lesnar at UFC 121 just two weeks ago to become UFC Heavyweight Champion, and he credits his team and trainers for his success. “They’re the whole reason why I think that I’m here,” said Velasquez. “They prepare me well, not just physically, but mentally. I mean, Javier (Mendez) would always tell people that ‘oh he’s going to be the next champ,’ put a lot of pressure on me and tell me that ‘hey, you gotta be ready because you’re going to be in that position. I’m saying this just so it won’t be a shock to you later on.’”
Cain says it is important to have people around him he can trust both inside and outside the octagon. “It’s just always having good people around you. I trust them with everything,” said Velasquez. “As far as fighting technique-wise, Javier is never wrong to me. He has been in this game so long, he’s so good at what he does, so whenever he tells me to do something, I’m on it, I’m doing it. And that’s the type of fighter you need to be, to be successful in this sport, learn from other people and constantly improve.”
Although he hasn’t been to the gym since winning the belt, other than to quickly visit his teammates, the champ doesn’t plan on standing idle. Despite his dominant performance against Lesnar, he intends on getting much better. “I have to improve on everything,” said Velasquez. “You know, this sport is evolving and growing so much, you can’t just stay where you are because guys will catch up and surpass you. You always need to keep getting better, always need to keep improving if you want to keep that title for years.”
And, Cain does plan on remaining champion for a long time. His first title defense will be against number one contender Junior Dos Santos, likely sometime in the spring of 2011. Velasquez believes Dos Santos is the best boxer in MMA right now and will look to bring in experts in the sweet science to help him prepare for the Brazilian. “I think we’ll have to [bring in professional boxers to prepare for Dos Santos], you know,” said Velasquez. “That will be one key thing, is to work with guys with that kind of speed whose boxing is crisp. We need those kind of guys to come in and work with those kind of guys. It’s like what we did with Brock. We brought great wrestlers in, Daniel Cormier and Mark Ellis.”
Regardless of the fame, fortune and praise that Cain receives, family is what this champion cares about. And having his family’s support surpasses any and all endorsements or publicity. After UFC 121 Cain says his family was overwhelmed with emotion. “They were just in tears,” said Velasquez. “It was just a great feeling. I wish after the fight I could have just gone to them, but we had to do media stuff. But it was good just to have them there and be involved with the whole experience.”
A humble, classy champion, and a great role model for kids. No wonder the UFC put forth such a concerted effort to market him to both Latino and international audiences. Cain Velasquez is what mixed martial arts is all about.
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