Velasquez will fight to retain his belt when he squares off against the heavy-handed Junior dos Santos at UFC on FOX from the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., which he won with a first round destruction of Brock Lesnar at UFC 121 in Oct. 2010.
Fighting is nothing new to Velasquez, whose family has a rich tradition of fighting to survive. In honor of his father and his deep respect for his Mexican heritage, Velasquez had his chest tattooed with the phrase, "Brown Pride."
Velasquez has received some heat, in the past, for his tattoo. Critics have called it racist, divisive and have even associated it with gang crime in Southern California.
"I got this tattoo for two reasons. One, for everything my parents did to come over to this country, all the hardships they had crossing the border. ‘Brown pride' when we were growing up meant ‘Mexican pride.' That's how we would say it. It's something to say if we're proud about where we came from. What my Dad did, my Mom did to get over to this country to me means a lot. I'm proud of where I came from. I'm proud of what Mexican people stand for. We're known as hard working people. We're known as fighters. We're known to have a lot of heart. We're known to never give up in the gym and have a lot of cardio. To always work hard. The work ethic that my Dad, all the Mexican people bring out in the fields and stuff, we bring to the gym and whatever else we do. Another reason why I got is because when I was growing up I didn't have anybody to look up to. There's nobody that was my size that was Mexican that looked like me that I could see in the media. I pretty much didn't have those dreams of ‘Hey, I can do that stuff. I can be in the media, I can play professional sports.' I didn't have that. I didn't have anybody to look up to so now that I'm in that position, I put ‘Brown Pride' on my chest to let people know ‘Hey, I'm Mexican. I'm proud to be Mexican. I'm doing good things.' For those people that just don't know the story behind it, that's all I can say. The only thing I can do is clear it up by doing interviews like this."
After winning the belt from Lesnar, Velasquez was heralded by many as being the first ever Mexican heavyweight champion. It's a claim that isn't completely true, as Ricco Rodriguez is also of Mexican descent and was a UFC heavyweight champion as well (he is also part Puerto Rican).
Regardless of the validity of the claim, there's never been a mixed martial artist who has been embraced by the Mexican (and Mexican-American) community as Velasquez has been. Fittingly, Velasquez will return to the place where it all got started when he defends his title for the first time later this evening against "Cigano" in Anaheim.
Velasquez is certain to have an army of supporters behind him as he takes on dos Santos in Southern California, which has a large population of Mexican-Americans.
Brown pride, united.
To honor Velasquez, his heritage and his journey to the top, FOX Deportes has been running a series based on the champion, appropriately titled: "Cain Velasquez: Brown Pride." The third and final volume of the series ran on FOX Deportes yesterday (Nov. 11) at 7 p.m. ET. For fans who missed it, FOX Deportes will show all three episodes (consecutively) today at 3 p.m. ET.