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Velasquez signs with WWE, set to face Lesnar on Halloween

Brock Lesnar and Cain Velasquez fought at UFC 121 on Oct. 23, 2010 (Photo/Getty Images)

Two former big men of college wrestling who fought in the UFC Octagon and in a pro wrestling ring -- Cain Velasquez and Brock Lesnar -- will meet each other at a WWE event in Saudi Arabia this Halloween.

Velasquez, who has participated in two lucha libre Mexican pro wrestling events in recent months, signed with WWE in Las Vegas Friday to face Lesnar at WWE Crown Jewel in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Thursday, Oct. 31 -- Halloween, according to ESPN.com.

ESPN reported that the former Velasquez had signed a lucrative, multiyear contract with WWE. He also notified the UFC of his retirement, which led to Velasquez being removed from the UFC's United States Anti-Doping Agency drug-testing pool and the UFC heavyweight rankings.

"I am so excited to be joining the WWE," said Velasquez -- a former junior college national wrestling champion -- at the press event held in Las Vegas Friday. "Brock Lesnar crossed the wrong familia, and for that, he needs to pay. '

"I know Brock is big. He's the biggest. But he ain't the baddest. I've beat him once before the UFC, and I'm ready to do it again."

At the same press conference, Lesnar -- 2000 NCAA heavyweight champ for University of Minnesota -- said, "Words can't describe the feelings that I have in the ring when Cain Velasquez comes walking down this ramp. Cain, this is my world. This is my house. This is my kingdom, and I am the conquerer."

Velasquez and Lesnar met in the UFC's octagon nine years ago at UFC 121, with Velasquez scoring a first-round knockout of Lesnar to claim the UFC heavyweight title. Velasquez lost the belt in a subsequent fight against Junior Dos Santos, but won it back in 2012 in a rematch. He defended the title twice before a submission loss to Fabricio Werdum.

Fast-forward to a week ago Friday night. Velasquez made his WWE on-screen debut on SmackDown last Friday, confronting Lesnar ... setting the stage for the two former college big men -- and UFC rivals -- to meet again, not in the UFC Octagon, but a WWE ring.

Prior to entering the worlds of professional wrestling and MMA, Velasquez and Lesnar made names for themselves in amateur wrestling.

The 36-year-old Velasquez, who compiled a 14-3 record (12-3 in UFC) in a pro MMA career launched in December 2006, was a two-time Arizona high school state wrestling champ who started his collegiate career at Iowa Central Community College, where he won the 2002 NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) heavyweight title. Velasquez then transferred to Arizona State where he was a 2005 Pac-10 conference champ, then went on to earn NCAA Division I All-America honors by placing fifth in the heavyweight (285-pound) bracket at the 2005 NCAAs. He was welcomed into the Arizona State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2018.

Lesnar, 42, was a football and wrestling star at Webster High in South Dakota. He continued his mat career at Bismarck Community College in North Dakota, where in two years he built a 56-3 record, culminating in the 1998 NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) heavyweight title. J Robinson, then head coach at University of Minnesota, saw Lesnar in action at a tournament, and signed him to complete his collegiate career with the Gophers, where Lesnar became a two-time Big Ten champ and two-time NCAA finalist, winning the national heavyweight title at the 2000 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships.

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