Cain Velasquez Retires From UFC, Signs Multi-Year Deal With WWE

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Two-time UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez announced his decision to retire from UFC and join WWE on a multi-year deal on Friday.

The move comes a week after Velasquez made his WWE debut and confronted current WWE Champion and former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar on SmackDown. The WWE announced the pair will face off in a match at the Crown Jewel pay-per-view event in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on October 31. Velasquez made his professional wrestling debut over the summer, appearing in two matches for the Lucha Libre AAA promotion in Mexico. Those matches caught the attention of several of the world’s top promotions, including the WWE.

Velasquez enjoyed a 16-year career in MMA and debuted for UFC in 2008, finishing his career with a 15-3-0 record and 13 knockouts. He won his first heavyweight belt in 2010 by defeating his upcoming WWE opponent, Lesnar, but lost the belt in his next fight against Junior Dos Santos. Velasquez then defeated Dos Santos in 2013 to regain the title and defended it successfully on two occasions before falling to Fabricio Werdum in 2015. Velasquez would only participate in two more fights, falling to Francis Ngannou in early 2019 in his final bout.

Velasquez joins Lesnar and Ronda Rousey as prominent, contemporary MMA athletes who transitioned to professional wrestling. In addition to revealing Velasquez as a participant at Crown Jewel, the WWE also announced boxing’s lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury–who also appeared last Friday on SmackDown–would square off with Braun Strowman at the same event.

Velasquez notified UFC of his retirement and has been withdrawn from USADA drug-testing pools. UFC did not comment on the news, according to ESPN and SB Nation.