October 29, 2011
Q&A with UFC's Cain Velasquez
By NEIL SPRINGER, QMI Agency
TORONTO - It was only a year ago that Cain Velasquez dethroned Brock Lesnar for the heavyweight championship at UFC 121.
Though his first title defence was set to be against Brazilian slugger Junior dos Santos months later, a torn rotator cuff forced him under the knife and he’s been sidelined since.
The two will finally meet Nov. 12 in a bout that has the potential to be the most-watched in MMA history when the UFC debuts on FOX. The fight will air in Canada on Sportsnet.
Velasquez took time out from his busy training schedule to talk to QMI Agency.
Q: You’ve been the champion for a year, but haven’t had the chance to defend your belt yet. How frustrating has that been for you?
A: “It was hard, but I just listened to the doctor and worked on getting back to 100% as soon as possible. I just look at it that way.”
Q: How has the shoulder been in camp? Did it feel stronger after the surgery and rehab or was there an adjustment period?
A: “In the beginning, it was an adjustment. I just had to work around it until it got stronger and now it feels 100%. I’ve been at it for a while, so it hasn’t been an issue.”
Q: Have you brought anyone special in to help you prepare for dos Santos?
A: “Business as usual. I’ve just trained to fight against someone who has really good boxing like he does.”
Q: You two fighting on FOX could be the biggest fight in MMA history. Does that add any extra pressure for you?
A: “There’s no pressure at all. I’m not really thinking about it. I’m just thinking about the fight in general.”
Q: How do you size up dos Santos? He’s looked good in three-round fights, but showed signs of fatigue against Shane Carwin and Roy Nelson.
A: “I think he’s a well-rounded fighter. I think he’s one of the best boxers in MMA. He has good takedown defence and if he does get taken down, he’s able to pop up right away. And he does throw kicks here and there. He’s just really well-rounded. I don’t see him as having a gas tank problem at all. He’s been in fights with a bunch of tough guys and he’s beaten them up every round.”
Q: Guys have had a hard time taking him down in the UFC. As a wrestler, do you see it as a personal challenge to put him on his back?
A: “If (the opportunity) is there I’ll take it, but that’s not the game plan going in. He is good in that position, but I’m not afraid to put him in that position. If I don’t get it, I’m going to stand up with him, punch with him and kick with him. We’re going to do everything. ”
Q: The winner of Brock Lesnar vs. Alistair Overeem is expected to be next in line. Who do you think wins that fight?
A: “We’ll have to wait and see what happens with Brock, if he can take down Overeem and keep him down. That’s going to be his biggest test and if he can do that, I think he’ll get the win.”
Q: How do you think you’d stack up against Overeem?
A: “I don’t know. Overeem is more of a stand-up fighter, so I’d try to exploit some other areas that he really hasn’t been in. He’s a tough guy and he’s been one of the best for a while, but I’m just thinking about the fight with dos Santos.”
Q: Daniel Cormier has credited you a lot with his development as of late. What has it been like seeing him progress so quickly?
A: “He’s just growing so fast. He’s just an amazing athlete and can pick it all up so fast. MMA as a whole — boxing and kickboxing — he’s just putting them together so well with his wrestling. He’s a tough guy and he’s helped me a lot with the wrestling aspect. He’s a great workout partner and we’re able to push each other really hard. He’s so young in this sport and he’s going to continue to get so much better.”
Q: How do you like his chances against Josh Barnett?
A: “Even with the short amount of time he’s been in there, I think Dan’s going to beat him up. He’s going to take it to him.”
Q: Moving to UFC 137 Saturday, who do you like in the main event between Nick Diaz and B.J. Penn?
A: “I think it’s a good fight. I haven’t been able to pick a winner with that yet. I think it will be a good fight, though.”
Q: What about the co-main event with Matt Mitrione and Cheick Kongo?
A: “It’s going to be a really good stand-up fight. Both guys hit really hard, but I think Mitrione has gotten much better. I’ve seen Mitrione — his quickness has come along. He’s a lot quicker. Both guys, I haven’t seen too much of them on the ground. I think the stand-up will be pretty even, but we’ll see what happens on the ground.
“Though he’s unproven, I pick Mitrione.”
Q: How do you see Mirko (Cro Cop) Filipovic and Roy Nelson going?
A: “If this was old Cro Cop, (I’d choose) Cro Cop. But from what we’ve seen from him lately, (I’ll go with) Nelson.”