Cain Velasquez leaving UFC, facing Brock Lesnar at WWE event


Cain Velasquez seen here in 2016 celebrating his win over Travis Browne during their heavyweight mixed martial arts bout at UFC 200 in Las Vegas. (John Locher/AP)

Cain Velasquez and Brock Lesnar are set for a rematch more than nine years after the pair fought in the UFC cage, except this time they’ll meet in the WWE ring.

The two former UFC heavyweight champions will be in a featured match at the WWE Crown Jewel pay-per-view event on Oct. 31, the organization announced at a press conference Friday.

ESPN’s Marc Raimondi reported Velasquez, a lifelong fan of professional wrestling, signed a multiyear contract with the WWE and informed UFC officials of his retirement from mixed martial arts.

Velasquez, 37, retires from MMA with a professional record of 14-3 including notable wins over Junior dos Santos, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and he beat Lesnar to win the heavyweight title at UFC 121.

Lesnar referenced the scar he sports under his left eye stemming from that 2010 bout at Friday’s press conference.

At his peak, Velasquez was considered by many in the MMA community to be the greatest heavyweight the sport had ever seen. However, due to numerous career-threatening injuries and surgeries, the Salinas, Calif., native had only been able to fight three times since his final title defence in 2013.

Velasquez was finished by Francis Ngannou in a mere 26 seconds in his most recent outing back in February after a layoff that lasted nearly three years.

Lesnar was an established WWE superstar when he transitioned to MMA in 2007. He debuted in the UFC in 2008 and won the heavyweight title in his fourth pro fight. Lesnar returned to pro wrestling in 2012 following his loss to Velasquez and a subsequent defeat courtesy of Alistair Overeem. He returned to the UFC at UFC 200 and picked up a win over Mark Hunt that was ultimately overturned due to a failed drug test and he eventually made his way back to the WWE.

Although new to pro wrestling, Velasquez debuted with a top Mexican lucha libre promotion earlier this year.

Also announced for the WWE Crown Jewel event, current heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury will participate in a match with Braun Strowman.

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