Brock Lesnar came close but names like Jack Johnson, Rocky Marciano, Muhammad Ali, and Mike Tyson carried Boxing to a prominence mixed martial arts has yet to reach. Saturday nights encounter could be a step in the right direction towards changing that as the two best heavyweights in the game will lock horns for a second time at UFC 155.
Thirteen months ago, Cain Velasquez was the best heavyweight fighter in the world. 64 seconds later, a devastating over hand right, behind the ear, changed his fate and now, Junior Dos Santos is the heavyweight champion of the world.
The setup of the fight couldn’t have been scripted any better. At UFC 146, Dos Santos hammered Frank Mir so badly, that Mir couldn’t even tell the referee the name of the venue he was fighting in. Velasquez bloodied up Antonio Silva in such a fashion that parental guidance should have been heavily suggested.
This bout has a lot more at stake than your average rematch. Going into the first bout, the majority felt Velasquez would win but Dos Santos had the best chance of dethroning the A.K.A. trained fighter. Now, the roles are completely reversed.
Both fighters went into the fight with an injured knee but it is Velasquez who is getting all the publicity due to a video being released of the very training session that caused his injury. Velasquez claims he never authorized the videos release. As a professional fighter, it’s all about being the best you can be on a particular night and both professionals, made the decision to enter the Octagon.
In my opinion, it is better for the sport if Junior Dos Santos wins this fight. For the division to thrive, you need to produce knockout after knockout. Dos Santos is a product of this very initiative. Dos Santos is loved in Brazil and has increasing popularity abroad.
Many feel Velasquez as champion will be the key to unlocking the Mexican market. I don’t agree. It takes more than sharing a common ethnicity to breaking into this coveted market. Being native-born is the first step, which Velasquez is not, and having charisma, which Velasquez doesn’t have, is the second step.
Junior Dos Santos often gets compared to Chuck Liddell in terms of using his grappling to fend off takedowns. The difference is, Liddell did it time and time again and we’ve only seen Dos Santos do it twice. We really don’t know what he can do on the ground long-term. Velasquez’s wrestling acumen can test the mettle of Dos Santos’ ground game.
If Velasquez can’t get this fight to the ground, he is in big trouble. He has the speed and power to catch Dos Santos but the problem is he keeps his chin high and never moves his head. The idea of moving your head sounds simple but I can tell you from experience, it is a form of body movement that comes natural to no one and is a technique that is mastered in the development stages.
Cain Velasquez finds himself in the Josh Koscheck role. If he loses, he will never see another title shot as long as Dos Santos holds the gold. If he wins, there is no doubt these two will fight each other again.
So, I need to pick a winner. Everything point towards a Junior Dos Santos victory and rightfully so. However, my spidey sense is kicking into overdrive. This has happened only two other times with Couture over Liddell in their first encounter and Cormier over Barnett. I can feel it in my bones. Cain Velasquez is the more well-rounded fighter and will use his skills to finish Dos Santos in the championship rounds.