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ASU's 50 Best Professional Athletes: No. 14 Cain Velasquez

At No. 14 on the list of the best professional athletes to come from Arizona State, we visit mixed martial arts once again and perhaps the best heavyweight to step inside the UFC Octagon.

Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports

Leading up the fourteenth entry into our list, we've had seven fighters that once called the wrestling mats at ASU home and would subsequently go on to make a name for themselves in the world of combat sports.

None, perhaps, more talented or accomplished than UFC heavyweight Cain Velasquez.

After a high school record of 110-10 and two Arizona state championships, Velasquez dominated in his one and only JUCO season and won a NJCAA National Championship competing Iowa Central Community Challenge.

As a Sun Devil, Velasquez' success didn't slow down. Velasquez would compete in maroon and gold for three seasons, going 86-17 in that span with top-five national finishes in both 2005 (5th) and 2006 (4th).

Velasquez established himself as a dominant force in the UFC's heavyweight division in 2008 after beginning his professional career 2-0. Six fights later, including a knockout of MMA legend Minotauro Nogueira, Velasquez challenged Brock Lesnar for the UFC Heavyweight Championship and knocked Lesnar in the first round.

The highlight chapters of Velasquez' career in the cage so far have come from his trilogy with former UFC Heavyweight Champion Junior dos Santos.

In their first meeting, dos Santos stunned the MMA community by knocking Velasquez out in just over a minute into the fight. Velasquez rebounded with a win over Antonio Silva, dominated dos Santos for a unanimous-decision victory to regain the title, and defended the title against both Silva and dos Santos.

The third fight with dos Santos gave Velasquez' the rubber match in their trilogy.

While Velasquez lost the UFC heavyweight championship in 2015 to Fabricio Werdum (who recently lost it to Stipe Miocic), 2016 has been a different story for this Sun Devil. In July, Velasquez knocked out Travis Browne to once again establish himself among the elite in that division and enter the title picture.

Velasquez' next fight has yet to be announced and Miocic is making his first defense of the UFC heavyweight championship against Alistair Overeem on September 10 at UFC 203.

Depending on the result of that fight, it isn't out of the realm of possibility that Velasquez gets the next title shot against the winner of that fight.

We'll find out soon whether Velasquez will have his chance at a third UFC heavyweight championship reign depending on how events unfold in Cleveland at UFC 203.