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Coach: ‘Stupid’ mishaps kept Cain Velasquez from becoming greatest of all time

UFC 200: Tate v Nunes Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Who is the greatest heavyweight mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter of all time?

That depends on who you ask. At one point several years ago, it looked as though then-UFC heavyweight champion, Cain Velasquez, would take that title and run away with it, leaving Fedor Emelianenko (and several others) in the dust.

But the surgically-repaired Velasquez was unable to stay healthy and got finished by both Junior dos Santos and Fabricio Werdum in high-profile title fights. Apologists blamed the location of “Cigano’s” punch the first time around, then the Mexican elevation for his “Vai Cavalo” defeat.

I’m not sure if those qualify as “stupid,” but coach Javier Mendez is playing the blame game.

“Here, in my opinion, I think he could’ve been the greatest heavyweight of all time had none of these stupid things happened to him,” Mendez told The MMA Hour. “I mean, there were some by his cause, some by my cause, some by just unforeseen things. And almost anybody that sees what he’s capable of doing and what he had been doing obviously knows that there’s no one like him.”

Velasquez missed three years of his fighting prime, not competing in 2014, 2017, and 2018. In addition, he only fought once in 2015, 2016, and 2019, leaving him at just 1-2 during that span. Now 36, with a loss to Francis Ngannou fresh on our collective minds, his ability to reach Mt. Olympus seems unlikely.

“This is an unforgiving sport, and he’s had a lot of mishaps happen to him,” Mendez said. “And like I said, some are my fault, some are his fault, some are other people’s fault. But it’s happened and we’ve just got to move forward. But, is it depressing? Yes, it is. It’s heartbreaking for me when I see these things happen to him.”

Velasquez does not appear to be in any big hurry to return to the Octagon after recently signing with Mexico’s AAA pro wrestling promotion, where he’ll make his mid-summer debut as part of the upcoming “TripleMania” extravaganza.

As a fan, where does Velasquez rank on your “best ever” list?

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