Five rounds with Cain Velasquez
What do you think about Shane Carwin, his injury and his withdrawal from the Roy Nelson fight?
Carwin and [Brock] Lesnar [both injured] are definitely the best, and people want to see people fight the best. I want to fight the best, so I hope they recover soon.
You destroyed Brock Lesnar last month to earn the UFC heavyweight belt. Have you made the adjustment to being the champion?
I kind of adjusted before. I just told myself that a lot more public appearances and media would come after the fight, so I told myself that. I have to be ready, there are a lot of obligations, it's part of the job, so you have to do it. I've been able to bring my fiancée [Michelle Borquez] and my baby [Coral Love Velasquez] along to Miami and here, so we've been together and it's good. If I hadn't had a chance to do that, it would be hard. The rest of my family knows I'm busy.
Right now we don't have anything coming up, so I can take time off after a fight. This is the longest time I've taken off after a fight. So when I can, in the hotel, whatever, I go to the gym, run, just move around. As soon as this media tour is over, I'll just go home and start doing everything all over again.
You've said you like to lift weights. How does it fit in with your training?
Two weeks up until the fight I stop lifting. When I wrestled, we lifted three times a week, and we stopped before a match when we could, but with having a match every week we had to lift. Our schedules were just that hectic.
You have the words "Brown Pride" tattooed on your chest. What does Mexican pride mean to you, especially having been born and raised in the United States?
My dad came across the border illegally to this country to look for work to raise his family. That was his whole dream. He got deported back a couple of times, and the way he got here was walking the desert. I'm just really proud of everything he and my mom did for us. I grew up in Yuma, Ariz. We moved there when I was 2. Living in Yuma we were 30 minutes from the border and San Luis and 30 minutes from another town, so every weekend we would visit family, go to eat dinner. My grandfather, cousins, uncles are still over there. For me it is just about where I came from and what we stand for. We are a people with a lot of heart, hardworking people.
For me this is a great opportunity to show who we are. I just want to go in there and fight the type of fights Mexicans are used to seeing and used to bringing. We have a lot of heart; we don't give up. We're always in there with a lot of action fights. That's the kind of fight I want to give the fans. That's the kind of style that I want to bring to the table. I feel that it's in my blood to do that.
That's the type of fighter and person that I am, but it [Mexican pride] just comes down to what kind of person we are when we're fighting, when not fighting, when we're just walking around. We're hardworking, we have that same kind of blood, that intensity. We're always very passionate about everything. I think this is a great opportunity for me. I just want to use what I have in me and keep growing, learning, evolving in this sport.
Do you root for Margarito because he's Mexican, or do you approach the fight this weekend from the standpoint of who is the better fighter, Manny Pacquiao or Antonio Margarito?
I look at it as who is a better fighter. You know I had a chance to watch [HBO's] "24/7." I get a chance to see what kind of people the fighters are. I make my judgment off that as to who is a better person. What kind of people they are, what kind of fighters they are, I make my judgment off that as to who I favor better, both as a person as a fighter. I definitely think it is going to be a good fight.
Do you think the media has come down harder on Antonio Margarito because of the hand-wrapping issue?
I think it is definitely hard. Any time with cheating in sports you put yourself in a bad situation. Whether he knew or not knew that's just like with the drug stuff, the steroids, it's the same thing. You're just looked down upon. That stuff, we don't need it in sports. It's something that we don't need.
I don't know if he's guilty or not, I have no idea. I definitely like to give people the benefit of the doubt. But I don't know.
What do you think about the video circulating on the Internet today that shows Antonio Margarito's camp making fun of Freddie Roach and his Parkinson's disease?
I only saw a little bit of it. But I can definitely see both sides. One, definitely you have this disease and it's a serious thing and everything else. On the other hand it is something to get at the other camp, people do that as far as talking trash they use that for fuel. So I can see it going both ways.
Today is Veteran's Day. Any thoughts about all the Mexicans who have served in the U.S. armed forces?
I have a brother-in-law who is in Afghanistan; he is Puerto Rican. I take much pride in people that serve us, God bless them, and hopefully they get back safe. Without them we couldn't be living the lives we are living now.
What did your parents say when you first got involved with mixed martial arts?
My mom, my best friends all said: Don't do this. My dad didn't even know what it was. I had to explain it to him, he still didn't get it. Once they saw how he was going about it, they supported me.
What did trainer Javier Mendez say the first time you showed up at his gym?
Javier always thinks heavyweight Mexican is like being fat, you know, so when they told him, 'We're gonna get you a Mexican heavyweight. Aren't you going to go to the airport to pick him up?' He was like, 'No, I'm not going to the airport to pick him up.' Mexican heavyweight. He thought I was going to be fat. And then when he sees me he was like, 'What?'
Gabrielle Paese is an editor for ESPN.com and the former sports editor at The San Juan Star in San Juan, Puerto Rico.