Well, if you listen to his camp, American Kickboxing Academy (AKA), it appears Cain Velasquez has the potential to be one of the top heavyweight mixed martial artists in the world.
Javier Mendez, founder of AKA, comments on Velasquez’s abilities beyond his ASU wrestling background:
“Right now, he could walk in and be a good pro boxer,” said Mendez about someone who, aside from fooling around with gloves with some friends, had never even put on boxing gloves until August 2006. “He could not only be a good kickboxer, but he’s K-1 level (the Japanese group which is top organization for heavyweights in the world). He won a world championship in Jiu Jitsu (World No Gi world champion in the blue belt division in late 2007, 17 months after his first class). He’s the fastest learner I’ve ever had. And nobody trains harder. He trains harder than the lightweights.”
Mendez, who said Velasquez today could beat Randy Couture, said he saw something in him the first day he came through the door for a tryout. Velasquez was sparring with Jean Claude Leuyer, a top heavyweight kickboxer in the 90s who threw a head kick at him to show the newcomer who was boss. Velasquez received the kick and immediately slammed Leuyer down.
“Right then, I said, ‘He’s in,'”
Claiming that Velasquez could compete in K-1 and beat Randy Couture is pretty bold statement for someone who’s only been in the cage for a total of eight minutes.
Daniel Puder, Velasquez’s training partner:
“I think in a year he can beat Fedor (Emelianenko). The thing is, he’s got the greatest conditioning of anyone. He’s got the speed of a lightweight and the strength of a heavyweight. You can’t out-quick him. You can’t out power him. You can’t outlast him. He doesn’t just beat people in the gym, he massacres them. It’s almost impossible to last a round. His only weakness possibly is to get him with technique. But you can only get a move on him twice, because he learns instantaneously.”
Another bold statement. While Fedor is good to great in nearly all aspects of the game, what separates him from the pack is his intelligence inside the ring. With maybe the exception of Randy Couture, no one puts together a game plan like Fedor does, and adapts it to what is happening inside the ring. Velasquez may have the physical tools, but is he as strong in the mental aspects as well?
Truth be told, no one really knows how good Cain Velasquez is yet. There has been a lot of hype built up around him in the media, but from the limited amount of tape I’ve seen of him, he certainly could live up to it. A fighter’s training camp has been known to build up their fighters beyond what they actually are, but maybe Cain is good enough to beat Couture right now, or bang it out in Japan with the K-1 guys. Like I said, its too early to tell and until he gets in the cage with top heavyweights, we aren’t going to know for sure. But I’ll tell you what, all the hype he has received certainly makes me want to watch to find out.
I wouldn’t mind seeing a Brock Lesnar vs Cain Velasquez match, but for now, Velasquez will be taking on Jake O’Brien this Saturday night, July 19, at Ultimate Fight Night 14 “Silva vs Irvin” on Spike TV. It will be one to watch out for.