Repeated injury woes robbed Cain Velasquez of many of his prime years in the sport, but Daniel Cormier still firmly believes that at his peak the former heavyweight champ was the best of the best.
“I tell you, nobody wanted those Cain Velasquez problems,” Cormier told MMA Fighting. “If that dude was healthy and ready to go, I still believe he was the best fighter. Ask me, ask Khabib [Nurmagomedov], ask the guys that saw him in the gym when he was healthy and he was good, nobody was like Cain.”
DC is so convinced on that point that even as a double-champion himself he believes that Velasquez was better than he was.
“Think about his accolades, and he had to miss five or six years in the middle of his prime due to injury,” Cormier said. “Crazy.
“He was the best. I’m telling you right now, he’s one of those guys that everyone calls the best — this dude was the best. He was better than me, for sure.”
While he was still relatively healthy, Velasquez racked up a seven-fight winning streak in the UFC that culminated in him winning the heavyweight title courtesy of a first-round TKO finish against Brock Lesnar.
He would then get TKO’d by Junior dos Santos in the 1st round of their first encounter to lose his grip on the title, but he’d then get his revenge by beating JDS twice during another four-fight winning streak.
Knee injuries really began to take their toll on Velasquez after that, resulting in lengthy absences from the Octagon due to surgeries and setbacks, and he was never quite the same fighter he once was in the three fights he managed in the five years prior to his retirement, suffering losses to Fabricio Werdum and Francis Ngannou along with a TKO victory against Travis Browne.