Inside the cage or out, Velasquez stands proud
Cain Velasquez is well aware of the accomplishments put forth by Hispanic-Americans and understands the expectations to remain a role model and perform at the highest level inside the cage. Franklin McNeil looks at what Hispanic Heritage Month means to the UFC fighter.
Originally Published: September 23, 2008By Franklin McNeil | Special to ESPN.com
Independence: It is the heart and soul of all Americans. Every year on July 4, Americans unite to celebrate our freedom.But for Hispanic-Americans, the celebration doesn't end in July. During Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 through Oct. 15), Americans from Central and South America celebrate the independence of their native lands and the pride of their heritage. "I was raised Hispanic, as a Mexican, and my parents always celebrate [Mexican Independence Day]," rising mixed martial arts lightweight Efrain Escudero told ESPN.com. "It's like we celebrate the Fourth of July. It's the same for us on Sept. 16 [when the fight for Mexican independence began in 1810]. "It's when we got our independence. It's also an opportunity for us to get together and celebrate, not only with our family but with other Hispanics too."
Hispanic-Americans from all walks of life take this time to reflect on personal and collective achievements. It is also an opportunity to set goals for the future. The contributions Hispanic-Americans have made in the United States are too numerous to list here. But many more contributions are forthcoming, especially in the world of mixed martial arts. Escudero and heavyweight Cain Velasquez are Mexican-Americans. Each is relatively new to the sport and the UFC in particular, but expectations for both are extremely high. Although many fighters downplay the expectations others place on them, Velasquez and Escudero embrace them. They understand the responsibility put on their shoulders. Velasquez and Escudero carry the responsibility millions of Mexican fans place on them each time they enter the cage. And these two fighters relish the opportunity to make their countrymen proud, especially during Hispanic Heritage Month. "Every time I step into the cage, not only am I fighting for myself but I'm also fighting for everybody in Mexico," said the 22-year-old Escudero. "I have to give them a good name." The heart of Mexican fighters is legendary in boxing. Velasquez and Escudero bring that same intangible into MMA; there is no quit in either man. "All Hispanics have that" never-quit mentality, said Escudero, whose record is 10-0-0. "Every time I step in the cage, I'm going for blood. "There is no way I'm going to lose to the other guy. I'm going to keep coming at you. "I've talked to a couple of friends at my gym and we sit down and talk about their fears. They say they hate fighting Mexicans because Mexicans never stop coming." Velasquez agrees.
Sherdog.comExpectations are already high for UFC newcomer Cain Velasquez.
It's something [never-quit attitude] I bring to the Octagon. It's something I learned early in life."
-- Cain Velasquez, on his approach to life and fighting in the Octagon
HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH
ESPN.com and ESPNdeportes.com celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with stories that reflect on the contributions to the world of sports by Hispanic athletes and executives. For ESPN.com coverage, click here. For ESPNdeportes.com coverage, click here.
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