T here is an old adage that comes from boxing that goes, “A great big man will always beat a great little man.” In MMA, too many fighters take this saying to absurd lengths, cutting enormous amounts of weight for weigh-ins and then gaining it all back to fight the following evening. This practice has become more and more extreme in the sport these days, with fighters risking their future health and, sometimes, not even making the weight they were obligated to. But in doing this, many fighters have proven that old adage true time and time again, with the bigger man on fight night almost always ending up beating the smaller man. But there is an exception to every rule, and, in this case, that exception is named Cain Velasquez. By no means “little,” the 6’1”, 240-lb. former UFC Heavyweight Champion has nevertheless been outweighed by opponents by 20, 30, sometimes even 40 lbs., as he was the night he defeated WWE icon and then-UFC Champion, Brock Lesnar.
After over a decade in the fight game, the former champ is now considered among the greatest heavyweights in the history of MMA. But it has not always been smooth sailing en route to his exceptional 14-2 record with 12 KOs/TKOs. Cain has had to deal with his share of obstacles throughout his career – the most daunting being the various injuries that have kept him out of his beloved sport since his knockout victory over Travis Browne at UFC 200 in the Summer of 2016. But while he takes the time to retrain his body for the rigors of battle, he also keeps his mind centered, enjoying the opportunity to spend time with his wife, Michelle; daughter, Coral; and his baby boy, Cain, Jr., who was born last November. He also he uses his recovery time to pursue his automotive passions, whether it is making necks snap while cruising in his 2018 Polaris Slingshot or tracking one of his Porsches.
In the fight game, Cain is far from the type of fighter who tries to garner Conor McGregor-style attention by talking loudly and behaving outrageously. On the road, though, Cain doesn’t mind a few jaws dropping as he drives by in his Polaris. Cain’s Slingshot is anything but subtle, sporting a giant carbon fiber rear wing and bronze Savini wheels. “It looks futuristic, like the Batmobile. People are always taking pictures of it on the freeway. And it’s great if you want to feel the outdoors and enjoy the scenery, but still be comfortable.”
“But it’s not all about flash,” Cain adds. “I look for cars that perform and are reliable.” Cain appreciates how incredibly the Slingshot performs not because of pure horsepower, but because of its exceptional power-to-weight ratio, weighing just over 1,700 lbs. and having 200 hp to propel its single rear wheel. It is a vehicle that mirrors Cain’s own style of fighting, hitting the apex of a turn with the same precision Cain maneuvers an opponent into one of his low kicks or double-leg takedowns. He often jumps in the Polaris (literally, since it has no doors) when he heads to San Jose’s American Kickboxing Academy to sharpen his skills with elite fighters, such as UFC Champions Daniel Cormier and Khabib Nurmagomedov. “I live in Gilroy. It’s about 20 minutes away from San Jose. There’s a lot of canyon-style back roads that you can just get lost on and make a day of it.”
One thing Cain has yet to do is throw the Slingshot around a track, something he plans to do in the near future. However, he has tracked two of his other cars: a Sepia Brown 1973 Porsche 911 and the white 2017 Porsche Macan GTS that his wife usually drives. A regular at the track, he likes to push his cars and his skills to their limits. “I’ve been doing the OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Challenge for the past couple years. I brought my Macan out on the track there. It’s my wife’s car,” Cain laughs, “But I didn’t wreck it, so I’m all good.”
Although his wife daily drives it, Cain loves taking out his Macan on drives and wants to put a more aggressive exhaust on it in the future. “There’s a lot of racing heritage behind it and they’re very meticulous about how they make [their cars],” Cain says about his Porsche. This made it a no-brainer when he decided on a classic 1973 Porsche 911 as his dedicated track car. Cain has been slowly building it up over the past few years. “It’s real fun to drive. Its original color is Sepia Brown. It has a 2.7-liter air-cooled engine. It’s still a little rough, so I just go out and have fun with it. Maybe next time, it’ll be ready for the magazine.”
Other than spending as much time as possible with his family and enjoying his cars, Cain is preparing his good friend and training partner, Daniel Cormier, for a much-anticipated fight against current UFC Heavyweight Champ Stipe Miocic and also getting ready for his own return to action. “Right now, my main thing is to get [Cormier] ready for his fight in July. When we train together, I get better, and he does too. He’s one of the best in the game. It’s been amazing having him there.” Now, some fighters who have achieved a fraction of what Cain has obtained would call it a career and move on at this point, but even after all these years at the highest levels of the sport, Cain still feels he has something left to accomplish in MMA. Just as every basketball player chases the legacy of Michael Jordan, he chases the legacy of the one man whose legendary wars in PRIDE FC first inspired him to become a mixed-martial artist: Fedor.
Not yet satisfied with his own formidable legacy, Cain is inching ever closer to his return to MMA for another run at greatness. “I’m close. I’m pretty much there physically.” But what if, by the time Cain is ready to make his return, the man holding the heavyweight title is his own friend, wrestling coach, and teammate? Earlier this year, Cain cryptically tweeted, “Once he wins, things could get interesting.” UFC fans around the world will just have to wait and see how this next chapter of his career plays out.