This Saturday at UFC 121, Cain Velasquez will look to become the first Mexican heavyweight champion in fighting history when he challenges reigning king Brock Lesnar inside the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.
UFC president Dana White repeated those same words, almost verbatim, in the event’s official press release. Spike TV also used a similar line to introduce Velasquez in the debut episode of “UFC Primetime: Lesnar vs. Velasquez.”
The only problem is, Cain was born in Salinas, California – which would technically make him a Mexican-American. Although the difference is slight, it’s a rather significant one when referring to first generation immigrants whose parents sacrificed everything for the unknown.
“Something spoke to me. Something in my heart told me I had to do it. There was more opportunity in the United States. All I cared about was my family not going through the same hardships that I endured and that they didn’t lack anything,” Cain’s father, Efrain Velasquez, said of hopping the Mexican border.
Although a familiar – yet financially limited – life was available to him, Efrain opted to start anew with a physically demanding job as a lettuce loader. For hours on end, he would stack 30-50 pound boxes for minimal funds just so his offspring could pursue their American dreams, whatever they may have been.
“My dad wanted to come here for a better life for him and his family. His whole dream was to come and live here in the U.S. I always saw my dad going back and forth to California (from Arizona) by himself and working for us – I’ve always known that,” Cain said of his father’s selfless ways.
“I didn’t put it all together then, but as I was getting older I knew what he was doing for us.”
To disregard the “-American” tag from Cain belittles his dad’s arduous plight to provide better options for not only Cain, but his entire familia. It’s not as though Cain was miraculously discovered on Mexico’s dirt-paved roads and fortuitously found his way onto the Octagon’s canvas.
If his father wouldn’t have risked everything in 1975, it could be said with absolute certainly that Cain’s big brown eyes would never have seen this multi-million dollar opportunity.
On the flipside, it’s understandable why the UFC brass chose to spotlight the MEXICAN in Cain. Their insatiable hunger for achieving global dominance has been well documented, and having a charismatic figure an entire nation can rally behind would certainly help their efforts. The NFL is attempting the same thing with New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez – although he no habla Español until recently…
Cain is currently living the American dream all migrants wish for when coming over. That’s why it’s important the “-American” moniker be attached everywhere Cain goes. One thing’s for sure, he’ll be carrying it into the Octagon with him on Saturday.
“I definitely got my work ethic from [my dad] and my mom,” Cain admitted. “It’s just all the hard work I’ve put in when I first got into this sport, [it came from them]. I just can’t wait to prove all the hard work has paid off.
“The only goal I have is to be the UFC champion. To get that belt and hold that belt. It’s like having my dreams come true.”
Some might say, a Mexican-American dream come true.