Although he may be widely known for his otherworldly cardio in the cage, UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez is rarely, if ever, accused of using performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) to aid his dominant run past the top of the UFC’s biggest division.
That is, until now.
After a shocking first round submission win over formerly surging Matt Mitrione in the co-main event of last Saturday’s (June 6, 2015) UFC Fight Night 68 from New Orleans, rising heavyweight Ben Rothwell called out his division with a promo cut from the vein of any good pro-wrestling heel, complete with a menacing evil laugh at the end.
He took it to the next level on The MMA Hour yesterday, however, insinuating that Velasquez might not fight the same way once the UFC’s all-new random drug testing goes into effect on July 1.
Velasquez was quick to respond during a media luncheon in Mexico City (via MMA Fighting), where he will finally take on interim champion Fabricio Werdum in the main event of this Saturday night’s (June 13, 2015) UFC 188 pay-per-view (PPV). According to the champ, he takes Rothwell’s barbs as a compliment given that he lacks an Adonis-like physique:
“That’s a big compliment for me, because I’m never known for physique. For someone to point that out, I’m kind of flattered.”
The champion then cited Rothwell’s post-fight speech at UFC Fight Night 68, noting that it’s tough to take anything he says too seriously:
“Did you watch his after-fight speech?” Velasquez. “Maybe it’s coming from that, I don’t know.”
Velasquez relies on his powerful, high-volume striking and grinding wrestling to bulldoze his opponents with an unmatchable breakneck pace in the Octagon, a byproduct of his grueling sparring sessions with UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier at San Jose’s famed American Kickboxing Academy (AKA). That’s a well-known fact about him and his team as a whole, so Velasquez believes it a bit odd that Rothwell would suggest he’s using PEDs:
“Yeah, definitely it is,” Velasquez said. “Not being a guy who’s known for his physique, known for not being on anything. I’ve been tested before numerous times, before and after all my fights the day of. Again, watch his after-fight speech and you can find out where he’s coming from.”
The champ also thinks the UFC’s new increased testing protocol is a great thing for the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA), as he is looking forward to finally operating on a level playing field in the Octagon:
“That’s great,” Velasquez said. “I think we all need to be on the same playing field. So for them to finally be really strict on this is great for the sport. I know what I’m doing as far as what I’m doing to help me in fighting and I want my opponent to be on the same level.”
And while fighters will be tested randomly and stringently thanks to the new plan brought forth by the United States Ant-Doping Agency (USADA), Velasquez is all for the new guidelines. He stated he was ready to be tested at anytime to prove he doesn’t use any banned substances:
“Doesn’t matter to me,” Velasquez said with a laugh. “You want to test me right now?”
The champ appears focused on the task in hand in Werdum this Saturday, and shrugged off any PED accusations as if they were nothing. Heavyweights chasing his belt can hurl out any suggestions they see fit, but the calm and confident titleholder is going to do what he always does and keep pushing forward regardless of the talk outside the Octagon.
And in this day and age of shameless self-promotion, Rothwell, as an admitted testosterone-replacement therapy (TRT) user who was suspended for elevated levels himself, is most likely trying to drum up some interest for a potential future title shot. Will that brash strategy pay off for ‘Big’ Ben, or is he destined for another knockout at the hands of Velasquez?
Photo Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports