Former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez picked the right time to try his hand at professional wrestling.
Months after making his in-ring debut, the 37-year-old has signed a "lucrative, multi-year" deal with WWE according to ESPN's Marc Raimondi's sources and has informed UFC that he is retiring, withdrawing from USADA's testing pool.
On Friday at a press conference in Las Vegas, it was announced that Velasquez will face WWE Universal Champion Brock Lesnar at this month's Crown Jewel event in Saudi Arabia. It's unclear whether the match is for Lesnar's title.
Velasquez himself hasn't officially announced the news as of this writing nor has UFC publicly acknowledged it.
Velasquez has wrestled twice thus far this year, once at AAA's TripleMania and again at their New York Uprising event. There was interest from New Japan Pro Wrestling and All Elite Wrestling in signing Velasquez, but after he appeared in the show-closing segment of last Friday's SmackDown's debut on Fox, it signaled that a WWE deal was imminent.
Velasquez famously defeated Lesnar for the UFC heavyweight gold at UFC 121 in December 2010. After racking up a 13-1 record and two title reigns, injuries besieged the Mexican-American star and he fought just three more times (1-2) over a six year stretch. He last attempted a comeback in February, but was defeated by Francis Ngannou in just 26 seconds.
Two expected matches for Crown Jewel were made official at WWE's media event in Las Vegas this afternoon.
WWE Champion Brock Lesnar vs. former UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez has been confirmed for Crown Jewel, along with Braun Strowman vs. boxing star Tyson Fury. The show is taking place at King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Thursday, October 31 and will air live on the WWE Network.
WWE hasn't said that Lesnar's title will be on the line against Velasquez.
Lesnar became WWE Champion by defeating Kofi Kingston on last week's SmackDown on FOX premiere. Velasquez then made his WWE debut and attacked Lesnar in a post-match angle.
In storyline, Velasquez was getting revenge after Lesnar attacked Rey Mysterio and Dominik on Raw. The story for Lesnar vs. Velasquez is also playing off of Velasquez's win over Lesnar from the UFC. At UFC 121 in October 2010, Velasquez defeated Lesnar via first-round TKO to win the UFC Heavyweight Championship.
ESPN's Marc Raimondi reported today that Velasquez "has signed a lucrative, multi-year contract with WWE and has also notified the UFC of his retirement."
Velasquez had his first professional wrestling match for Lucha Libre AAA at Triplemania XXVII this August. He then wrestled at AAA's Invading New York show in September.
The build to Strowman vs. Fury also began on last Friday's SmackDown on FOX premiere. They got into a confrontation on that show and then had a pull-apart brawl on this week's Raw.
Top Rank boxing founder Bob Arum appeared at today's press conference and introduced Fury.
Crown Jewel is the fourth event in WWE's 10-year deal with the Saudi General Sports Authority. It began with the Greatest Royal Rumble in April 2018.
A five-on-five tag match is set for Crown Jewel, with Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair coaching the teams against each other. It will be Seth Rollins, Rusev, and three partners vs. Randy Orton, Baron Corbin, and three partners.
Cain Velasquez retires from MMA, signs 'lucrative' WWE deal. Lesnar vs. Velasquez and Strowman vs. Fury Announced
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