UFC 155: Junior dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez - The Hype, The Style, The Stakes
It’s been a tumultuous year for the sport of mixed martial arts and many of those involved can’t wait for 2012 to be over. This Saturday night, the final major card of the year takes place – UFC 155 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The main event features the rematch between UFC Heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos and Cain Velasquez, who first clashed at the first-ever UFC On FOX card last year. The Well Versed is here to provide you with everything you need to know about the dos Santos/Velasquez matchup heading into tomorrow’s busy night of fights.
End of the year fight cards have typically bring some of the most attention and coverage to the UFC and MMA, but there’s a definite lack of buzz surrounding UFC 155. Compared to last year’s UFC 141 card featuring Brock Lesnar vs. Alistair Overeem, tomorrow’s event is clearly suffering from a lack of true hype. One reason for that may simply be this is a fight fans have seen before and it was no epic battle you would be dying to see again. Junior dos Santos won the UFC Heavyweight title by knocking out Cain Velasquez in just over a minute. Another could be the aforementioned sentiment toward this past year of MMA, with fans just ready to move onwards to 2013. That’s unfortunate because the UFC 155 includes a lot of potentially entertaining bouts throughout the card. But for die-hard fight fans, there’s not much more you can ask for. Two of the best Heavyweights, both in the prime, will meet once again for the UFC championship.
While Junior dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez is a rematch, there is not much to take from the first bout considering how quickly it ended. The brevity of their first account plus lingering knee injuries bothered both competitors did not allow us to truly see a game plan implemented by either man. The one thing we did learn is that dos Santos can turn Velasquez’s lights off with just one punch and has a significant advantage on the feet.
If Saturday night’s bout turns into another standup battle, dos Santos will knock out Velasquez once again. Simply put, Velasquez must get this fight to the ground to win. The American Kickboxing Academy fighter has some of the best ground-n-pound in the Heavyweight division and needs to work on tiring dos Santos out by establishing a grueling pace. The longer this one goes, the better it is for Velasquez. And the best way to achieve that will be to grind it out, pressing dos Santos against the cage and taking him down when possible. We have not seen dos Santos have to work off his back, but the only established wrestler he’s faced was Shane Carwin. Carwin relied on brute force and dos Santos easily stuffed his takedowns. Velasquez uses his technique and quickness to secure takedowns, which could bode well for the challenger.
This matchup is a throwback of sorts in that it truly is a striker vs. a grappler. If Velasquez is unable to take this fight to the ground, he is in for a long day. Dos Santos has crisp boxing, plenty of power in both hands and an iron chin. Velasquez’s striking has developed significantly during his UFC career, but dos Santos is in another league. Even if Velasquez finds early success with his game plan, dos Santos knows he can end the fight by connecting with one clean shot.
Heavyweight supremacy is on the line at UFC 155. The Heavyweight division has long struggled to find a dominant champion, but Junior dos Santos has a chance to become that stable force atop the UFC’s marquee weight class. Dos Santos can tie the UFC record for successful Heavyweight championship defenses and join the ranks of Randy Couture, Brock Lesnar and Tim Sylvia. A win could finally signify the arrival of an official face for the Heavyweights, much like Georges St. Pierre, Jose Aldo and Anderson Silva have established in their respective divisions.
For Cain Velasquez, redemption is the name of the game. Velasquez wants to prove the first fight with dos Santos was simply an aberration and that he is the better fighter. Velasquez knows he will be perpetually stuck in neutral if he loses this bout. With AKA teammate Daniel Cormier on his way to the UFC and two losses in the books to dos Santos, Velasquez will be far away from the title picture for the foreseeable future. That’s a difficult place to be for a former champion in the prime of his career. Regaining his UFC title is important, but Velasquez has much more at stake than just a belt in this one.