Cain Velasquez's young pro-wrestling career will continue on.
Following his critically acclaimed debut match earlier this month, the former UFC heavyweight champion has signed on to wrestle on Lucha Libre AAA's two cards coming up this fall in the United States, sources told ESPN on Friday.
The first is Sept. 15 at Madison Square Garden's Hulu Theatre in New York. The second is scheduled for Oct. 13 at The Forum in Inglewood, California. Velasquez's participation has not yet been officially announced.
Velasquez, 37, made his debut in pro wrestling at AAA Triplemania on Aug. 3 in Mexico City. He surprised the 18,000-plus in attendance at Mexico City Arena with his athletic skills, pulling off impressively acrobatic moves for someone with a 6-foot-2, 250-pound frame. The event drew an average of more than 1.6 million viewers on TV Azteca. Velasquez is a major name in Mexico and has been a big part of the UFC's promotional push into the country.
Since his debut in lucha libre (the Mexican version of pro wrestling), Velasquez has drawn interest from several other pro-wrestling promotions, sources said. Before he signed with AAA for Triplemania, Velasquez's team had been in discussions with WWE that fell through. Velasquez's UFC contract allows him to perform in pro wrestling.
Cody Rhodes, an executive vice president for upstart All Elite Wrestling (AEW), told ESPN after he teamed with Velasquez in Velasquez's debut that the UFC star shouldn't have been that good in his first match, "but he was." AEW will be starting with a prime-time TV show on TNT in October and has positioned itself as an alternative to WWE.
Velasquez is still on the UFC roster and plans on continuing with his MMA career. A two-time heavyweight champion, he is one of the best heavyweight fighters in UFC history. Velasquez (14-3) has had an MMA career wracked by injury; he has fought only twice since dropping the belt to Fabricio Werdum in 2015.
Most recently, Velasquez fell to Francis Ngannou by first-round TKO at UFC Phoenix in February. He suffered torn knee ligaments in that bout.