Khabib letter revealed in teammate’s attempted murder trial
Khabib Nurmagomedov and Cain Velasquez are friends from their days together at the American Kickboxing Academy
Letters from former lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and UFC president Dana White in support of detained ex-heavyweight king Cain Velasquez have been revealed.
The pair were among the most prominent voices to speak up in support of Velazquez in March after he was charged with attempted murder, and also penned written correspondence to this effect as revealed by ESPN midway through the month.
In police custody since then, Velazquez allegedly fired shots at a vehicle that contained Harry Goularte, a man accused of molesting a young relative believed to be Velazquez's son. The car was also reportedly carrying Goularte's mother and his stepfather.
As Velazquez pursued a high-speed chase and allegedly rammed their vehicle, he reportedly fired bullets from a .40-caliber handgun into Goularte's car with two shots hitting the stepfather, Paul Bender.
As Velazquez's attorney Mark Geragos tries to grant his client freedom, letters from Nurmagomedov, White and UFC featherweight prospect Yair Rodriguez in support of the Mexican-American have been obtained and revealed after becoming part of an exhibit and writ of habeas corpus filed this week.
In his letter, Nurmagomedov started by saying he was perhaps best known in the US as the "former undefeated world champion for the UFC."
The Russian explained how he met Velasquez more than 10 years ago and how they trained at the same gym in San Jose, where the alleged Goularte incident took place, which is the iconic AKA.
He described Velasquez as "one of the most respected people in the gym that is full of honorable people" as well as a "leader and family man".
"Much of my time with Cain is personal but I can attest that in all of my interactions with the man, he is an honest and kindhearted person who would do anything for his family and friends," Nurmagomedov went on.
"He is the type of man that most of us would want on our side in life. These types of experiences were a daily occurrence."
Nurmagomedov stressed that he was aware of the attempted murder charge among others, but noted that although they should be handled in court, the charges seemed "a lot based on all the circumstances".
"I hope that the charges are reviewed and lessened when more details come out. Once this judicial process is complete, I have [a] strong view that Cain would not pose a risk to commit criminal activity in the future," Nurmagomedov signed off.
White's letter was longer in length and saw him also state that he was fully aware of Velazquez's current charges before defending his former fighter.
White said he was "stunned" to learn of them, as they were "completely out of character for the man I was proud to say was a two-time UFC Heavyweight Champion".
White said he had known Velasquez for more than 15 years and outlined how the 39-year-old "represented our company with dignity and always treated others with respect" while on the UFC roster.
"He was a model example of how a professional athlete should carry himself, projecting a positive image to UFC’s fanbase," White said.
"Mr. Velasquez was extremely professional and went above and beyond to make a connection with our fans and promote the sport of mixed martial arts – not only as an entertainment product, but also as a character—building discipline."
White also defined Velasquez as a proud Mexican-American who "never passed up an opportunity to visit Mexico on behalf of our company and demonstrate his gratitude to the Mexican fans for their support".
"People who know him best describe him as a humble, soft-spoken man who was very much dedicated to his family, including his wife and his two children," White insisted, revealing that if given the opportunity, he was sure that Velasquez would "like nothing more than to return to his family and continue to make a positive impact on his community".
White signed off by "sincerely" asking the judge to take these factors into consideration as she adjudicates the next step in the process concerning Velasquez, while also making himself available for contact if needs be.
Thus far, the judge in the criminal case, Shelyna Brown, has rejected Geragos' offer to post $1 million in bail money for Velasquez's release and abide by other conditions such as outpatient treatment and in-person monitoring.
Geragos is also representing Velasquez in a civil suit against Goularte, plus his mother and the daycare center she ran where the alleged molestation took place.
The attorney has further argued that a recent Fifth Amendment invocation by Bender in the civil case should invalidate the testimony he has made thus far in the criminal case, but Brown has thrown out that argument too.
Nurmagomedov's and White's letters came as part of a 246-page document when Geragos filed a petition with the 6th District Court of Appeal requesting Velasquez be released.
If convicted of attempted murder, Velasquez faces 20 years to life behind bars and additional time if convicted on his gun-related charges.