UFC president Dana White and some of the best fighters in the world -- like UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and retired former lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov -- wrote letters in support of Cain Velasquez to the Santa Clara County (California) Superior Court last week.
Velasquez is being charged with attempted murder and nine other counts after targeting a man who is charged with molesting one of Velasquez's young relatives. Velasquez, the former two-time UFC heavyweight champion, is currently in Santa Clara County main jail without bail. Judge Shelyna Brown denied Velasquez bail at a hearing March 7.
In the 34 letters obtained by ESPN, the authors asked the court for leniency in Velasquez's case, many of them mentioning that he is a family man, has no criminal history and has been an exemplary friend, teammate and colleague for over a decade as a professional fighter.
"I have known Mr. Velasquez for more than 15 years, and during his time as an active athlete with UFC, he represented our company with dignity and always treated others with respect," White wrote. "He was a model example of how a professional athlete should carry himself, projecting a positive image to UFC's fanbase."
In addition to White, Usman and Nurmagomedov, former UFC double champions Daniel Cormier and Henry Cejudo, former UFC flyweight champion Brandon Moreno, former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum, current Bellator MMA heavyweight champion Ryan Bader, UFC featherweight Yair Rodriguez, UFC middleweight Kelvin Gastelum, UFC lightweight Islam Makhachev, former Bellator promoter Bjorn Rebney and Bellator president Scott Coker wrote letters in support of Velasquez. So did prominent MMA manager Ali Abdelaziz of Dominance MMA.
Velasquez is a longtime teammate and friend of Cormier, Nurmagomedov and Makhachev as well as a former college wrestling teammate of Bader and a former UFC opponent of Werdum. Velasquez coached Rodriguez on The Ultimate Fighter.
"Cain has helped me on more occasions than I can count," Cormier wrote. "Like me, he is a father and husband so he knows the demand of trying to do it all. Throughout the years, he has traveled with me, supported me, and even helped me prepare for a coaching job at the high school while I retired from my fighter career. Cain has taken it upon himself to help every chance he gets. During the pandemic when many gyms and restaurants were closed, Cain opened his home and provided a place for wrestlers to train and eat. He even housed them."
Nurmagomedov wrote: "[Velasquez] is an honest and kindhearted person who would do anything for his family and friends. He is the type of man that most of us would want on our side in life."
There were also names from the professional wrestling world who sent in letters, including WWE's Rey Mysterio, legend Konnan and Lucha Libre AAA president Dorian Roldan. After retiring from MMA in 2019, Velasquez crossed over into lucha libre professional wrestling in Mexico under the AAA banner before signing with WWE.
"[Velasquez] is a loving man, who has consistently gone above and beyond to provide the best possible life for his family," Mysterio wrote. "[He] expressed to me how hard it was having to leave them behind at home, while he travels in order to pay the bills and put food on his [family's] table."
The letters were solicited by Velasquez's legal team, led by attorney Mark Geragos, who has represented the likes of Michael Jackson and Chris Brown. There has been an outpouring of support for Velasquez on social media from the MMA community, including the use of the hashtag #FreeCain and a fundraiser for legal fees.
Velasquez, 39, was arrested Feb. 28 after allegedly engaging in a high-speed chase with Harry Eugene Goularte, who is being charged with molesting a younger relative of Velasquez. Velasquez shot a gun into Goularte's vehicle several times, per the Santa Clara County district attorney, and hit Goularte's stepfather Paul Bender in the arm and torso. Bender suffered non-life-threatening injuries. Goularte's mother Patricia was also in the vehicle, per the DA.
Velasquez, a California native, is facing more than 20 years in prison on the 10 charges, nine of which are gun-related, if convicted. His next court date is April 12, per court records.
The 43-year-old Goularte, who was not injured in the shooting, is being accused in Santa Clara County of a lewd or lascivious act upon a child under the age of 14. Goularte was released from custody Feb. 25 without bail by the court, against the DA's demands, per the DA. He was ordered to stay in home detention, remain 100 yards away from any child under 14 and wear an electronic monitoring bracelet.
The child victim, who is under 10 years old, told a Santa Clara County sheriff's deputy on Feb. 24 that Goularte took him into the bathroom of a daycare center and touched his genital area, per a court document obtained by ESPN. The child said Goularte said not to tell anyone what happened and that this particular scenario had occurred "100 times."
In the court document, the child said other kids had gone into the bathroom with Goularte, too. Goularte has denied any wrongdoing, saying he once helped a child with his pants when he saw the child didn't have them on correctly. Goularte lives in the same building as the daycare center, which is owned by his mother, according to the court document.
Goularte's mother told police she did not believe the allegations against her son. Goularte's next court date is a plea hearing April 13, per court records.
After being released by WWE at the outset of the pandemic, Velasquez had started coaching at his longtime gym American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose and started pursuing lucha libre again in Mexico, performing there last December.