When Muhammad Ali finally retired in 1981 the boxing world worried there would never be a spectacle like him again. A few years later a guy named Mike Tyson came along.
When the King Elvis Presley croaked on his throne the world proclaimed there would never be another entertainer as charismatic. Then Michael Jackson moonwalked onto the scene.
Even the larger-than-life icons eventually get replaced.
Will we see him in the cage again?
We live in a world that forgets very quickly. Sensations like Brock Lesnar and Chocolate Rain captivate us, but once they are out of the spotlight we move on.
Lesnar's health has kept him out of the cage. He hasn't fought in over 10 months and overall he’s only had seven fights, albeit very high profile ones.
I am not saying people are going to forget about “Brocolate Rain” Lesnar, but if he doesn’t fight he can’t draw an audience, it’s that simple. Also, it isn’t clear if/when Lesnar comes back how he’ll be affected by surgeries and injuries.
Velasquez is by most accounts the most intensely fit heavyweight the division has ever seen. He has the type of physique that can endure, and doesn’t have years of pro football on his knees.
Unlike Lesnar, Cain Velasquez looks as though he can hold up, which means we’ll be seeing a lot more of him.
Lesnar is a freak of nature, a unique athlete the likes of which we may never see in the UFC again, but UFC fans want the best and Cain already proved he is the superior fighter when he pummeled Lesnar into a pile of red goo.
The new heavyweights (guys like Dos Santos and Velasquez) are not only big but quick, athletic and have unbelievable stamina. They provide more exciting fights than traditional heavyweights, who are gassed a minute into the first round.
Cain Velasquez is very strong but not burdened with huge bulky muscles that require a lot of blood. The guy never gets tired.
Sorry Big Country but the future of MMA are hybrid freak athletes that have the stamina of the Terminator on Creatine.
There were two events that catapulted the UFC into the mainstream: the Bonnar vs. Griffin TUF finale and the arrival of Brock Lesnar.
Lesnar took the UFC to new levels of popularity but the partnership with FOX has removed the ceiling for how huge this sport can get.
The UFC is going to be on free network television during prime time, which means the potential audience got a whole lot bigger. Network shows will always get better ratings than pay TV.
The UFC will grow exponentially from there and is poised to take over the NBA as America’s third major sport. Cain Velasquez will be a big part of that growth, which brings me to my next point.
When I lived in Phoenix, Arizona, there was no bigger sporting event than an Oscar De La Hoya fight.
There would be lines of people waiting to get into arenas to watch it on a MONITOR, the sports bars were filled and when The Golden Boy fought Julio Cesar Chavez I think the state actually exploded.
Mexicans and Mexican-Americans are extremely proud people who show up in great numbers to support their guys.
Unfortunately for Lesnar there aren’t a whole lot of ginger Vikings around anymore, but there sure are a lot of Mexicans, over 110 million in Mexico, as well as 31 million Mexican-Americans and an estimated five to seven million undocumented immigrants living in America.
Guess who they are all going to be cheering for? Velasquez is a Mexican-American whose father was an illegal immigrant.
Now that the UFC is more accessible and will be televised on channels that everyone can get, there are 150 million reasons why Cain Velasquez is going to be the biggest draw in MMA.
Velasquez has a chance to be the most popular Mexican-American athlete since De La Hoya.