Former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez has reportedly retired from MMA and signed a multiyear contract with WWE according to a statement released on his Twitter account.
“I am so blessed to have been able to have a career doing something I absolutely love,” Velasquez said in his statement, which doubled as a retirement from the UFC. “I knew from the time I was a junior in college I wanted to be a fighter and after graduating from college, I set off on my journey of becoming a fighter with the goal of being UFC heavyweight champion. There are few people in this world that can say they have achieved what I have, and I am forever grateful for the opportunities and the position I held being a part of the UFC. With my official retirement from the UFC, it’s time for the next chapter.
“A year ago, when I went to my first WWE show, I fell back in love with a sport that I had watched and participated in since I was a child. From that moment, I have been doing a crash course on all things that relate to pro wrestling. I’ve been training at different gyms, going to shows and watching more matches than I would like to admit, but I can honestly say I eat, sleep and breathe wrestling now. The contract is signed and I’m on my way to my next goal which is universal champion.”
His first match with WWE will be against former UFC rival Brock Lesnar at the Crown Jewel event on Oct. 31 in Saudi Arabia. That same event may also feature a bout between Braun Strowman and Tyson Fury.
Velasquez made his first WWE debut on the Oct. 4 debut of SmackDown on Fox. He fought with Lesnar, landing some ground-and-pound and sending the WWE champion. Velasquez and Lesnar faced each other in the UFC’s octagon in October 2010 at UFC 121, when Velasquez dominated Lesnar to claim the UFC heavyweight title. Velasquez lost the belt in a subsequent fight against Junior Dos Santos, but won it back in 2012 in a rematch. He defended the title twice before a submission loss to Fabricio Werdum.
The 37-year-old California native returned from a nearly three-year break to headline UFC on ESPN 1 in February. He lost to Francis Ngannou via knockout just 26 seconds into the first round.
He made his professional wrestling debut in August at Triplemania XXVII, a major event held by Mexican promotion AAA.