Former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez has notified the promotion that he is retiring from active competition and he will exit the USADA drug testing pool as he begins a new career with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).
Velasquez made the announcement on Friday following a press conference in Las Vegas where he was announced as reigning WWE champion Brock Lesnar’s next opponent at the upcoming “WWE Crown Jewel” show in Saudi Arabia on Oct. 31.
“As of right now, the chapter’s closed on my MMA career,” Velasquez told reporters following the press conference. “I’m focusing on the task at hand with the WWE. I love this sport. I’ve kind of rebirthed myself in reliving it and loving it again.
“I’m all in and doing this. I’m diving deep into this and this is what I’m doing right now.”
Velasquez also confirmed he’ll be exiting the USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency) testing pool, further signifying his retirement from fighting. If he did decide to fight again, he would be required to undergo at least six months of testing after re-entering the drug testing pool.
“I’m going to withdraw from [USADA], because I mean it’s great and all to see USADA come to my door at 7 o’clock in the morning, whenever they want, and just come in and rush me out of bed. So I’m OK with being pulled from USADA,” Velasquez said with a smile.
Last week, Velasquez showed up at the debut WWE “Smackdown Live” card on FOX alongside veteran performer Rey Mysterio, further fueling speculation he would put his UFC career behind him to focus on professional wrestling.
In the vignette, Velasquez “attacked” Lesnar, and WWE commentators referenced back to their UFC 121 fight in 2010; Velasquez demolished Lesnar with a first-round TKO to become UFC heavyweight champion.
Now, the two former UFC titleholders will rekindle their feud in a scripted rematch inside the WWE ring later this month.
Prior to his most recent UFC fight against Francis Ngannou in February, Velasquez had already started to dip his big toe into professional wrestling. He made two separate appearances for a Mexico-based promotion called AAA after dropping hints about moving into sports entertainment for several months while he was out of action in the UFC.
Velasquez says that he spoke personally to UFC president Dana White about his decision to retire to pursue his new career with WWE, and his longtime boss was fully supportive of the move.
“We ended up talking on the phone and he just supported me 100 percent,” Velasquez revealed. “It was just a good, respectful talk that we had. He thanked me for everything that I did. I thanked him and the company for everything that they did, and he just gave me his full blessing.
“He said, ‘It’s awesome what you’re doing, go ahead, you have my full consent to go ahead and do what you want to do.’”
While Velasquez is hanging up his gloves to focus on WWE, the 37-year old former NCAA All-American wrestler won’t completely shut the door on a potential comeback one day. But for now, he’s putting all of his attention on his new career in professional wrestling.
“That’s still my world,” Velasquez said about MMA. “I still go in and train and do everything. I think it’s great to stay sharp to do this. A lot of moves that I do in the Octagon, we can do here in WWE, and obviously improve on what I’m doing here and add onto it and working with Rey [Mysterio] – just look to always improve, always get better. That’s the name of the game.”
If this truly is the end of Velasquez’s fighting career, he walks away as a two-time UFC champion with a 14-3 record overall while being regarded as one of the most talented heavyweights in MMA history. A huge portion of his UFC career was lost due to injury, but Velasquez still maintained his status as an elite heavyweight from the first day the set foot inside the Octagon until the last.