UFC on FOX Staff Predictions Special: Guest Picks From MMA Media MembersPosted on November 11, 2011, 10:00 AM by Anton Gurevich
Picking Cain Velasquez: Split Decision, MMAMania.com, EGO Total, TheFightNerd.com, FightOpinion.com, FightLine.com, FiveOuncesOfPain.com
Joey Bueller (Rock 96.7 Radio Split Decision, @SD_MMA): First off, I am a Cain fan and loyal to AKA. That being said Cain has a tough fight on his hands here. Cain has never been tested in the striking game like JDS will test him. I see JDS showing him some powerful strikes that will probably drop Cain in the first, but Cain has great recovery. That being said, once Cain realizes standing is a bad idea he needs to show JDS what top class wrestling is and drag it to the ground immediately. Once there it will be an awesome battle of Black House BJJ vs Dave Camarillo’s Guerrilla BJJ. The edge will go to the wrestling which will probably have Cain getting the decision if not a TKO. Of course, if Cain tries to box for too long he will get dropped and JDS will capitalize and get a TKO/KO in the first 1.5 rounds. The longer this fight goes, the better it is for Cain.
Brandon Dodge (Rock 96.7 Radio Split Decision, @SD_MMA): This is an extremely close fight and probably the best option for the UFC for its network television debut. I think the Champ will have the advantage in the grappling, cardio and speed department. That being said, I think standing Junior Dos Santos has a slight advantage with heavier hands and more technical punches. Not only that but he can take punches as well, as shown with Roy Nelson, Shane Carwin and Mirko Cro Cop among others. What worries me for Cain is that he got dropped by Cheick Kongo. His ability to recover and use his wrestling was what saved him in that fight, and I think it will be a factor in this fight with JDS as well. Dos Santos' technical striking is better, using more combos, better angles, and better counter striking than Kongo. However, nobody has put Dos Santos on his back and held him there for any amount of time yet and I belive Cain will do this and do it often. We hear that JDS is good off of his back, but have never seen it. I think this is where Velasquez will take the fight and end up winning a decision, if he doesn't get caught in the early rounds.
Brian Hemminger (MMAMania.com, @GotaHemmi): This bout, to me, will hinge on whether Cain Velasquez's shoulder is 100 percent as healthy as it was before the Brock Lesnar fight. If the shoulder is healthy, it's Velasquez's fight to lose. Junior dos Santos has showcased terrific takedown defense against the likes of Roy Nelson and Shane Carwin thus far in his UFC career, but he's never faced anyone like Cain Velasquez. Velasquez is a very cerebral fighter and he will take a fight where he feels he has the best advantages. He stood with Nogueira and Lesnar, but he put Kongo on his back for three rounds and he'll want to do the same thing to dos Santos for five this time. I think dos Santos has the cardio to stand and trade strikes for five full rounds, but if the champion puts him on his back, that's a whole different level of conditioning. I wouldn't be surprised to see Velasquez stand with "Cigano" early in each round but the second dos Santos throws anything with some zip on it, Cain will be shooting in and trying to put him on his back. If the Brazilian can't fend off Velasquez's wrestling, he's going to be exhausted by the end of the second round. I'm predicting a TKO victory for Velasquez early in the fourth round against an exhausted Junior dos Santos.
Alon Pdut (EGO Total UFC Color Commentator, @Fatut7): What a fight to bring the UFC into the mainstream sport. These two fighters are elite athletes that perform their chosen craft at the highest level possible. The two key factors in this fight, in my opinion are the state of Velasquez's shoulder and JDS's ability to stop takedowns. Assuming that Cain is 100 percent healthy, I would give him a slight advantage over JDS in a very close fight. I don’t see JDS finishing Cain, however I don’t see him getting finished either. The TD's of Velasquez will eventually make the difference, and he will win by a close but epic decision and retain his title. Cain Velaquez by Decision.
Matthew Kaplowitz (TheFightNerd.com, @TheFightNerd): It's been over a year since Cain last stepped into the octagon, and a lot can change in that time. With that said, Cain will be physically ready, if not raring to go since it has been so long he fought. The question is how quick will his mental game adjust to being in this situation again. Whether it's excitement or nervousness, either one can zap his adrenaline quickly and be a game-changer. Even with that variable, the strong hands of JDS are going to clobber Cain around unless he can put him on his back and quickly. In spite of the championship rounds, this fight will not make it that far, and will probably end as soon as the third round, but no later than the fourth. Cain will have to play this one smart and grind it out to get his third round TKO by referee stoppage from inhumane face-pounding, leaving JDS a bloody mess by the end of this one.
Zach Arnold (FightOpinion.com, @FightOpinon): If Cain's vulnerable, this is the fight he will lose. Otherwise, if he wins, he'll be on a roll in his career with several wins to come. I expect him to smother JDS and go the distance in a largely predictable decision win. JDS has fast hands, but Cain will do what GSP does and go into emergency mode to neutralize right away. Even coming off rotator cuff surgery, the guy is too strong and too quick to allow this to become a fist-o-cuffs firefight. Cain by decision to retain the title.
Raj Giri (FightLine.com, @RajGiri_303) The old expression of "a classic case of striker vs. grappler" has never been more true than with this fight. Cain Velasquez is arguably the top wrestler in the division, while Junior dos Santos is the best boxer. I don't see Velasquez being out of action for over a year being a factor in this fight. Velasquez is probably the best conditioned heavyweight we have ever seen, and he will be more than ready this Saturday. If Cigano is able to keep his range and use his technical pinpoint striking like he has been able to thus far, then he takes this fight. However, I think Velasquez should be able to wear the challenger down in the first round before taking the fight to the ground in the second, where he can unleash his unrelenting ground and pound like he did with Brock Lesnar. Velasquez via second-round TKO to retain the title.
Brendhan Conlan (FiveOuncesOfPain.com, @BrenConlanMMA): Match-ups like this are the reason I’m glad I have a person on board who handles predictions since one of the core things I love about MMA has to do with the inherently unpredictable nature of a fight, especially when it involves two supremely-skilled athletes like JDS and Velasquez. As far as the winner, the coin I just flipped tells me “Cigano” and his caravan will be taking the belt back to Brazil after catching Velasquez with a stiff combination in the second round, then sealing the deal with some punishment from above. Dos Santos has the size/strength to fend off a few takedowns and an underrated BJJ attack to keep things semi-interesting off his back. Beyond that, ring-rust is a very real thing and being a year removed from his last bout, plus coming off significant surgery, may throw Velasquez’s timing off at the start giving a boxer like Dos Santos the opening he needs.
Anton Gurevich (LowKick.com, @LowKick_Anton): Junior dos Santos went through fire and water to earn his shot at Cain Velasquez's UFC Heavyweight title. I expect the Brazilian, who without a doubt has a huge activity advantage in this bout, to stop Velasquez's takedowns and dominate in stand-up. In my opinion, dos Santos has a better well-rounded game and a combination of skills that makes him absolutely deadly inside the Octagon. Cigano via TKO in Round 3.
Joey Santosus; (LowKick.com, @LowKick_Joey): I have to admit, prior to his most recent clash with Shane Carwin, I was on the fence about Junior dos Santos. That's not to say that he hadn't been impressive in his previous outings, because he had been. In fact, so much so that there were elements of his game that we were yet to see because he simply hadn't needed to use them. However, after watching the way he shrugged of Carwin's takedown attempts, a mammoth of a man and former NCAA wrestling champ, I'm sold. One could easily make the argument that Velasquez will present with far superior MMA wrestling than Carwin, and they might be right, but a torn rotator cuff can be a career altering injury. Even at 100%, dragging "Cigano" to the mat will be a tough task, but with anything less than complete use of his shoulder, Cain will be forced to bang it out with the Brazilian battering machine. If the champ can find a way to force this fight to the ground, his chances of retaining the title increase significantly, but going punch for punch with JDS is simply not a battle I see him winning. Junior dos Santos via 4th Rnd TKO.
Trent Reinsmith ( LowKick.com, @TrentReinsmith): Cain Velasquez will step into the Octagon on Saturday to defend his UFC Heavyweight title for the first time. Velasquez captured the title by defeating Brock Lesnar in October of last year. Since that time Velasquez has been on the shelf, a result of a shoulder injury sustained in the Lesnar fight. That shoulder is the biggest question heading into his fight against Junior dos Santos. Sure, Velasquez has sparred with the fellas at AKA, but that cannot substitute for UFC title fight. Action. If Velasquez is not 100 confident in that shoulder or if it gets tweaked early, he will be in trouble, unable to execute his wrestling and forced to hold back on his strikes. If that happens, it will be lights out for the champ. On the other hand if that shoulder is 100 percent, Velasquez will take the fight to the ground and use his wrestling and ground and pound to end the fight. In the end, I see Cain holding back, worried about the shoulder and waking up surrounded by his corner and the doctors.
Matthew Roth (BloodyElbow.com, @MattRoth512): I think the fight will come down to Cain's ability to get Dos Santos to the ground. People like to bring up that Junior isn't a wrestler every time he fights. Wrestling doesn't matter though when you have soul-sucking power in your hands. We know that JDS can shuck off takedowns and that Cain has a hell of a chin. I'm going with who I believe is the more well rounded fighter in Junior Dos Santos since I think the time off has hampered Cain's development. Junior Dos Santos by TKO (referee stoppage) in the second round.
Jeremy Brand (MMASucka.com, @MMASucka): This is a fight for the ages, it's like back in the day when boxing had their free Friday Night Fights. Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos could go one of two ways and i'm hoping for one over the other. First way it could go is a slugfest, both men on their feet and it ends in the first round. The other way is Velasquez could turn it into a wrestling match with him grinding out the decision victory. I am of course hoping for the first rather than the second. My prediction for the fight is Junior Dos Santos by 2nd round TKO.
Jim Genia (MMAConvert.com, @Jim_Genia): On paper, it's easy to lay out traits and handicaps. Cain Velasquez's stellar collegiate wrestling background should give him the edge in takedowns and clinch-work against the fence, and though perhaps slightly out-gunned on the feet in terms of boxing and slinging leather, the ability to instantly change levels and snatch a single- or double-leg is the perfect failsafe for when Junior dos Santos starts to swing for the fences. But the X-factor in the equation is the reigning champ's shoulder, which required surgery and has kept him on ice for the last twelve months. Shoulder injuries are no joke - often, they can be career-changing - and given the "heavy lifting" that's sure to be undertaken in this match-up, the depth of Velasquez's recovery is going to be tested and probably found wanting. The two heavyweights are evenly matched in the submissions department, and likely neck and neck in terms of cardio, so we're going to have a decent stand-up contest in the first two rounds. But Round 3 will see the wheels come off the Velasquez bus, and from a tie-up that tweaks his shoulder and leaves him exposed, he's going to eat a dos Santos uppercut thrown all the way from the mean streets of Brazil, and that's all she wrote. The ref is going to be pulling dos Santos off the turtled and defenseless fighter soon after. Junior dos Santos via TKO (Punches), Round 3.
Zeus (MiddleEasy.com, @MiddleEasy): I've always envisioned Junior Dos Santos as one of the first people you meet when you arrive in Hell. He would be the guy responsible for putting on an endlessly reoccurring ass-whopping on anyone that stepped in the radius of his fists. An endlessly reoccurring ass-whopping of such epic proportions that it would even make Friedrich Nietzsche blush. If Cheick Kongo had the ability to drop Cain Velasquez twice in one round, Junior Dos Santos may have the power to send Cain Velasquez through a voyage within time and space. After the bigstage jitters have worn off, I have dos Santos TKOing Velasquez by the end of the first round -- the middle of the second at the very least.