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Exclusive Cain Velasquez interview: WWE convert suggests Conor McGregor could follow him into the squared circle

Ahead of the first WWE pay-per-view event of 2020, BT Sport sits down with former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez to discuss his new career in sports entertainment and whether Conor McGregor could follow him into the squared circle.

Cain Velasquez is no stranger to the big stage. 

The Californian brawler has had six title bouts in an 11-year UFC career that has seen him fight in front of the sport's biggest crowds as heavyweight champion.

None of that will compare though when the 37-year-old makes his WWE pay-per-view bow at the Royal Rumble later this month. 

Broadcast live and exclusive on BT Sport Box Office, the iconic event will be Velasquez's first true taste of what the WWE is all about.

The six-foot-one, 240 pound monster made his debut against fellow combat cross-over athlete Brock Lesnar in Saudi Arabia last year but the carnage of a 30-man Royal Rumble will be all new to Velasquez.

For a man whose background is firmly rooted in the Octagon, how does competing in the squared circle compare?

“It’s different but there are similarities, this [WWE] is an action sport and it’s the same thing with fighting," said Velasquez.

“It’s a different mentality that you have to have when you go out and perform. With the WWE you have to be really open to your surroundings, feel the crowd, hear the crowd. 

"Your timing needs to be correct, well it does in fighting as well, but your timing almost needs to slow down in-between doing a move and registering it.

“Whereas fighting, I don’t listen to the crowd, I’m just focussed on what I have to do as far as my opponent, watching him, because that’s all I have to worry about is him. 

"There’s nothing of timing, my gameplan is to go out there and be really offensive, that’s what I have to do and almost find my openings. Don’t work with him, just go out there and look to beat him.”

Velasquez is not the first athlete to make the move from combat sport to sports entertainment, and he certainly will not be the last.

Conor McGregor has repeatedly flirted with the idea of a move into the WWE Universe, so does Velasquez see 'Notorious' as a potential addition to the superstar roster?

"I think he’d be well suited because of his promos.That’s probably the hardest part and he nails that.

“And he’s just a great athlete so he can definitely do it, yeah!” 

“A good buddy, Daniel Cormier. He’s got a great personality, he’s a great athlete and he’s been in love with this sport [WWE] since he was a kid as well. He grew up watching it and even now as an adult he’s a huge fan.” 

Before wrestling fans get too excited at the prospect of seeing McGregor in the ring, the Irishman has the small prospect of his first fight in over 15 months.

Live and exclusive on BT Sport Box Office, McGregor makes his long-awaited return against Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone at UFC 246 in Las Vegas.

With less than a day to go until the Las Vegas showpiece, we asked Velasquez to cast his expert fight eye over the contest.  

“Early on McGregor’s hands I think are just very dangerous, in this fight anything can happen, but I think McGregor will win in the first three rounds.

“If it goes to a fourth and fifth I’d choose more Cerrone depending how the fight is going because McGregor tends to gas a little bit.”

So what should The Notorious expect should he opt for a career in the WWE?

“For me it’s just turned up a notch, even like on social media I didn’t know how big the WWE was," said Velasquez.

"Coming from the UFC that’s what I know, that’s the world that I’m really familiar with and I know the size of it and who’s into it and everything.”

"Just the amount of people, you have something like WrestleMania and the UFC doesn’t pull those numbers like that, they just don’t."

The Royal Rumble will be live on BT Sport Box Office. Click here for more information.

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