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[Newsmaker] Ex-UFC heavyweight champ enjoys time in Korea, plans to come back next year

Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez said Friday that he still isn't 100 percent fit enough to return to the octagon this year, although he expects to come back in the middle of next year.

Velasquez said making a comeback isn't his priority at the moment, since his wife is pregnant.

"She's going to deliver pretty soon, probably next month, and I want to focus on that," Velasquez said. "I want to experience the whole thing. I want to be there for my family." 

Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez poses for a photo with the mascots of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games at the Korea Tourism Organization in Seoul on Oct. 20, 2017. (Yonhap)
Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez poses for a photo with the mascots of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games at the Korea Tourism Organization in Seoul on Oct. 20, 2017. (Yonhap)


The American mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter was last seen in the octagon in July 2016, when he beat Travis Browne at the UFC 200 in Las Vegas. He was scheduled to take on Fabr?cio Werdum in December 2016, but the Nevada State Athletic Commission pulled him from the card after determining that the 35-year-old was unfit to compete due to bone spurs on his back.

Velasquez then underwent surgery in January to fix his back problem and has been sidelined from fighting since.

"Once our baby is born, I'll come back," he said. "Maybe in the middle part of next year. When I come back, I'll be 100 percent (fit)."

With some fans expecting him to go head-to-head against current UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic, Velasquez, whose MMA record is 14-2, said he doesn't care about whom his next opponent will be.

"Whoever the UFC gives me, I don't care," he said. "I'll be ready."

Velasquez landed in South Korea for the first time on Thursday to meet his fans and look around the country where the Winter

Olympic Games will be staged next year in PyeongChang, 180 kilometers east of Seoul. 

"I'm big fan of Korean cuisine," he said. "I'm here with an open mind -- just want to ... experience everything."

At the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) Center in Seoul, he enjoyed some winter sports in virtual reality (VR), such as alpine

skiing, biathlon and bobsleigh. Velasquez said although he isn't really big fan of winters sports, he'll visit South Korea again

next year for the Winter Olympics if he is invited.

"I grew up in Arizona, one of the hottest places, so I'm not really a big fan of (winter sports)," he said. "If I get invited, that'll be awesome. I'm always ready to try new things."

Velasquez said he'll also visit South Korea again if an UFC event is staged here and he is in the card. South Korea's only UFC event was in 2015. 

"I want to fight anywhere," he said. "When that time comes, I'll fight. Why not?"

When asked about the bout between boxing star Floyd Mayweather and UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor in August, Velasquez

admitted that there was a lot of hype, but he doesn't think it was a "circus" which some critics like to call it.

"I think it showed that our sport being legitimate," he said.

"It also showed that we (UFC fighters) are ready for everything from boxing to jiu-jitsu." 

Velasquez said that using banned substances should not happen again at the UFC as he also criticized Jon Jones who tested positive for an anabolic steroid and lost his light heavyweighttitle even though he defeated Daniel Cormier.

"We don't need those substances to be better," he said. "We only work hard to become competitor. We want everybody to play fairly."

Velasquez later met UFC featherweight fighter Jung Chan-sung, better known as his nickname "the Korean Zombie," at the South Korean's gym in southern Seoul and showed his skills to local fighters.

"It was really helpful for us and I really want to thank him for telling his know-how," Jung said. "I'm sure he'll do well once he returns to the octagon."  (Yonhap)

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