On Friday, it was reported Cain Velasquez, a former UFC heavyweight champion and one of the best fighters in that weight class seen in the sport, was retiring from MMA competition for life in professional wrestling.

Velasquez has now released a statement on social media about his decision to hang up the gloves in favour of the boots, swapping life in the Octagon for the squared circle.

“To the UFC, my family, friends, and all the fans, thank you for the past 11 years. Thank you to all my coaches, teammates and agents. I am so blessed to have been able to have a career doing something I absolutely love.

“I knew from the time I was a junior in college I wanted to be a fighter and after graduating from college, I set off on my journey of becoming a fighter with the goal of being UFC Heavyweight champion. There are few people in this world that can say they have achieved what I have, and I am forever grateful for the opportunities and position I held being a part of the UFC. With my official retirement from the UFC, it’s time for the next chapter.

“A year ago, when I went to my first WWE show, I fell back in love with a sport that I had watched and participated in since I was a child. From that moment, I have been doing a crash course on all things that relate to pro wrestling.

“I’ve been training at different gyms, going to shows and watching more matches then (sic) I would like to admit, but I can honestly say I eat, sleep and breathe wrestling now. The contract is signed and I’m on my way to my next goal which is Universal Champion.

“WWE Universe, thank you for welcoming me with open arms.”

We probably never saw the best Velasquez competing in the cage.

His UFC tenure – especially in its latter stages – was blighted by a string of injuries.

Velasquez returned to the cage after almost three years out at UFC on ESPN 1 in February. He suffered a 26-second knockout loss to Francis Ngannou – the third defeat of his career.

In all, Velasquez finished his MMA career with a 14-3 record. 12 of the talented former amateur wrestler’s wins came in the UFC’s Octagon.

He is currently embroiled in an on-screen storyline with WWE Universal champion Brock Lesnar – the man Velasquez dethroned to win the UFC heavyweight championship in 2010.

The pair are expected to face each other at the WWE’s Crown Jewel event in Saudi Arabia later this month.

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Thank you. Muchas gracias. @wwe @ufc #WWECrownJewel

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