Last night’s premiere episode of Friday Night SmackDown on Fox wrapped up in a grand fashion, as Brock Lesnar took only a few seconds to defeat Kofi Kingston for the WWE Championship. “The Beast,” however, didn’t have much time to celebrate, as he was soon interrupted by the arrival of Rey Mysterio, who was accompanied by an unexpected guest — Cain Velasquez.
With Velasquez beating down on Lesnar to close the show, it appears that WWE plans to build up a feud between the two former UFC heavyweight champions. And while WWE has yet to formally announce Velasquez’s signing as of this writing, MMA Fighting reported on Friday night that the 37-year-old fighter has apparently inked a deal with the company and will be facing Lesnar at the Crown Jewel pay-per-view in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on October 31.
As noted by MMA Fighting‘s Dave Meltzer, both men have a past history with each other in the world of mixed martial arts, as Velasquez defeated Lesnar for the UFC heavyweight championship at UFC 121 in October 2010.
While Meltzer did not offer any details on Velasquez’s purported WWE contract, he wrote that the MMA-fighter-turned-wrestler was originally scheduled to compete in his third match for Mexican promotion AAA on October 13, only for the event to be canceled due to poor ticket sales and “snags in negotiations.” Additionally, Velasquez and his representatives reportedly spoke with All Elite Wrestling before WWE and Vince McMahon’s promotion tried to match the rival company’s deal with a “large money offer.”
Prior to these new developments, reports suggested that Velasquez was planning to undergo knee surgery before signing a long-term contract with a major wrestling promotion. Per Wrestling Inc., the fighter was spotted wearing a knee brace when he made his appearance on Friday Night SmackDown.
Here is Cain Velasquez’s debut on WWE TV. Who could have predicted all this at the start of the year? pic.twitter.com/Q1RU8YHjGm
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) October 5, 2019
Separately, a new report from MMA Junkie claims that Velasquez has informed the UFC that he plans to pull his name from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) testing pool. The publication, which cited an unnamed source familiar with the situation, noted that this move “effectively [signals]” his retirement from mixed martial arts as an active competitor.
As further speculated by MMA Junkie, Velasquez’s purported decision to remove his name from USADA could set the two-time UFC heavyweight titleholder up for a full-time move to the world of pro wrestling. His last MMA fight — and his only one in a span of more than three years — took place at UFC on ESPN 1 in February, where he was knocked out by Francis Ngannou just 26 seconds into the first round.