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Cain Velasquez had UFC fighter thinking twice about sparring: ‘Daaang!’

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The former Heavyweight champion has superhuman power, according to fellow UFC fighter Dwight Grant.

Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight titleholder Cain Velasquez taught Dwight Grant a thing or two about punching up in weight.

Grant (11-3) fights Fransisco Trinaldo at UFC Vegas 41, which will take place inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, this weekend (Sat., Oct. 23, 2021), streaming online via ESPN+. Reflecting on his sparring sessions, Grant named Velasquez as the strongest person he’s ever trained with.

LIVE! Stream UFC Vegas 44 On ESPN+

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sat., Dec 4, 2021, with a thrilling Bantamweight contenders’ bout that will see No. 4-ranked Rob Font battle No. 5-seeded Jose Aldo. In UFC Vegas 44’s co-main event, No. 12-ranked Lightweight contender, Brad Riddell, squares off with No. 14-seeded Rafael Fiziev in a striking fan’s dream fight.

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“Cain Velasquez for sure,” Grant told ClutchPoints Lucas Grandsire. “A lot of guys fight at Heavyweight, but sometimes when people fight at Heavyweight you be like, ‘Man, you can make 205.’ This dude, I remember the first time I sparred with him. I remember thinking to myself, ‘Oh he’s not that fast and he’s not that strong, I’m stronger than most people heavier than me.’ I remember hitting him with a body shot and my shoulder getting pushed back. I was like, ‘Oh snap!’ He threw one at me and I leaned out the way and it kind of grazed my chest and [I remember] being like, ‘Daaaang!’

“There’s definitely a difference here, not just in size but like, do I really want to swing with this guy for like another five minutes? I like to push the envelope a little bit within sparring and have fun but then it’s like, ‘This is kind of dangerous!’ I sparred with him a couple of times. He’s always been very gracious with his time. I think that’s the first time I realized that weight classes actually matter. It actually makes a difference. There’s no way he can ever make 205. He just felt so solid. There was no give. That’s interesting.”

Velasquez was famously nimble for a Heavyweight, a sentiment Grant echoed.

“Grappling and wrestling and stuff like that, he’s fast, and then the striking, he was on point,” he explained. “Obviously, he took it easier on me, too. At that point, it was at his mercy. The thing that was interesting about it was the speed advantage I thought I would have, it wasn’t really there and part of it was because of conditioning and timing. A lot of factors go into it.

“Personally, for me, growing up I used to watch Boxing and I would ask my uncle, grandfather, ‘Why are they punching so slow, we were watching these guys before and they were going fast, these guys are going slow.’ Part of it is size but also because they don’t have to. They understand positioning and speed and they’re like, ‘I don’t gotta hurry up right here, I’m not in a position where I have to make a big move, it’ll come when it comes.’ Learning that now, especially dealing with different weight classes and different sparring situations is a big factor.”

Velasquez (14-3) retired from mixed martial arts (MMA) following several injuries and a 2019 loss to reigning UFC Heavyweight champion, Francis Ngnannou (watch highlights). At his prime, Velasquez beat Junior dos Santos (twice), Antonio Silva (twice), Brock Lesnar, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Cheick Kongo, among others.


Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 41 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN+ at 4 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 41: “Costa vs. Vettori” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.