Undefeated as a professional, CFFC heavyweight contender Greg Velasco has looked impressive in his run for the promotion thus far, scoring stoppage wins in all four of his appearances. But as "The Viking King" continues his push to the sport's highest stages, he sought out an opportunity to work with a familiar face: current UFC heavyweight Hamdy Abdelwahab, who actually handed Velasco his only defeat as an amateur, taking home a split-decision result at CFFC 76 in 2019.
"I really want to make it to that next level," Velasco said. "I've been training with Jimmy Lawson and Hamdy Abdelwahab, so I've been really trying to push to that next level and break through. I'm just enjoying the process and the journey, to be honest with you. I love all the experience I'm gaining."
Velasco helped Abdelwahab through his most recent training camp, making his UFC debut in July with a hard-fought split-decision win over Don'Tale Mayes at UFC 277. Velasco said it was inspiring to see a training partner and former opponent succeed in MMA's premier promotion.
"It's definitely exciting," Velasco said. "I'm happy for him. When he got his UFC debut and he came out and won, I was very excited. It raised me up a little, and I'm just grateful to be a part, to have good training partners there to back me up, support me, and help me push myself to new heights and levels.
"It's hard to find big heavyweights and guys to move around with, so when we reached out and linked up, it was nice to just get another big guy looking to go to the same place I'm trying to do."
Velasco will look to take another step in that same direction on Saturday, when he challenges for the CFFC heavyweight title that was vacated when former champ Jamelle Jones signed with the PFL. Velasco (4-0) faces veteran Kevin Sears (9-6) for the belt in the main event of CFFC 113, which streams live on UFC Fight Pass from Parx Casino in Bensalem, Penn.
Velasco knows he's facing a worthy opponent but hasn't exhausted himself studying tape from the more experienced "King Kevi."
"Honestly, I haven't really watched a lot," Velasco said. "I keep hearing that he's very durable and he's a tough guy, and he obviously has tons of experience, with his record. He's been around for a while. I hear he's a wrestler. I haven't really got to study him too much because I've really just been focusing on what I've got to do in my preparation. I don't really like to overthink it too much. I just go in there, make sure my gameplan is tight, and then try to go at my will and put on my show."
That approach has worked just fine thus far for Velasco, who has shown some grappling prowess with a pair of submission victories to go along with the two he won through strikes. Velasco said he just makes it a point to pay attention for any potential options to finish a fight.
"Honestly, for me, I just look for whatever opportunity they give, and a lot of heavyweights, I guess, just don't pay attention to the ground because everybody's going for that highlight knockout," Velasco said. "So for me, whatever opening you give me, I'll take. If I can knock you out of my feet, I will. If it's the ground and pound, I will. But if you give me a joint or a neck, I'll take it, as well."
CFFC champions don't often get too many opportunities to defend their titles, with calls to the big show generally coming in relatively short order. Velasco isn't making any assumptions, but he also feels ready if that honor comes along with a victory.
"I'll be prepared for whatever I have next," Velasco said. "Right now, I'm really just focused on Kevin Sears, getting the job done, and then after that, if I get the call, God willing, I'll take it. I'll do it. I'll be ready. I'll prepare. If Dana White wants to call me? I'll be there."
First, though, he must take care of the task at hand. Velasco insists that's not going to be an issue. While it's certainly the biggest moment of his career thus far, Velasco believes his preparation has him ready for the challenge.
"I try to just keep my cool, so for me, this opportunity is very nice," Velasco said. "I'm honored to be the headliner and the main event of the show, but to me, I just take it as another day, another business trip. I've got to go out and do what I've got to do."
This story first published at CFFC.tv.