October is finally here and with it, a match that fans have been waiting on for ten months; Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos III.
In the world of MMA there is no greater bout that can be had than that of a UFC heavyweight world title fight, for no division carries more gravitas or cachet, then does the heavyweight division. It is the home of giants and men who dwarf and tower over less substantial men.
To put it in context and as Frank Mir once humorously mused at a press conference (paraphrasing), there are no fans sitting in the audience looking at the heavyweights fight and thinking, I could beat those guys.
However, as bad and as scary as the division is collectively, it’s even more so when we consider the man that currently holds the belt and those that have been able to climb the ladder far enough, to challenge him for it; truly, the cream of the cream, of the division.
If there is a fight that proves that statement true, then most assuredly it has to be Velasquez / Dos Santos III, on the 19th of this month.
In preface to tomorrow night’s UFC Prime Time on FOX Sports 1 (8:30 pm EST), lets debate the question of which fighter will exit the cage with the belt.
Cain Velasquez is a machine. The champion is 10 & 1 in the UFC and carries and an astonishing 80% finishing rate, with only four opponents making it past the first round. He has, for all intents and purposes, owned every opponent he’s ever faced and although he has suffered a KO loss, he’s never been spanked or dominated in a round. Other than a few seconds of a single fight, the champ has looked indomitable and as if there’s not a man on the planet that could stop him.
Velasquez’s work ethic, wrestling and cardio are beyond reproach and his 80% finishing rate, all of which are by KO or TKO, speaks volumes as to his boxing and power. As previously stated, Velasquez is a machine and the machine seems to be a tank. He appears, for the most part, to be all but impervious to his opponent’s stand-up weapons and a black hole regarding their ground games. In a nutshell, the champ is neither easy to knock down or get down, and he’s not a fighter to be pushed around in the cage or winded out of a fight. If he were to be cast as a Hollywood character, he’d probably be an updated version of James Cameron’s Terminator; T-4.
If we were pushed to find a criticism, weakness or something to be debated about his game, the only thing that could be noted is that he has no submission finishes to his credit. However, that would be digging, to say the least.
Beyond that, the only thing a fan would be able to point to would be his one loss, the manner of it and more importantly, who delivered it. However, even in looking at that, one has to appreciate that any fighter that is caught cleanly and particularly by a guy like Junior Dos Santos, is going to get KO’d. Further, the loss was subsequently avenged and where JDS caught Velasquez quickly and early, Cain in return, beat the living tar out of Junior for five rounds, in their rematch.
Regarding Junior and in comparing him to Velasquez, the similarities are almost eerie.
Like the champ, JDS also burgeons a 10 & 1 record, and with an identical finishing rate of 80%. Stepping back and looking at it, it really is amazing how similar they are. They both have the same record, the same finishing rate and their only (UFC) losses come at the hands and expense, of one another.
Beyond that Dos Santos, too, is a phenomenal boxer and like Cain, one that’s more apt to use his hands than any other stand-up tool in his arsenal. Further still and again like Velasquez, JDS is not known for being a submissions artist and as such, has only one such victory to his name. Moreover, JDS, as is the case with the champ, is notoriously tough to get down and has never been submitted in the UFC.
In considering all of it, the two fighters are more similar than dissimilar and as such, the fight could well be a tossup, as to who wins the rubber match.
However, there are a few things that we could point to as being issues of difference.
Cain would get the cardio nod going into the fight, but of the two, appears to be the fighter with the weaker chin. Where Velasquez was able to use his cardio and stamina to beat Junior from pillar to post in their second fight, in turn, JDS was able to reach out and shut Cain down with a single swat of his paw in their first.
Another issue that could be considered would be the caliber of opponents that they’ve faced. Of the two, it could be argued that Junior has squared off against a slightly better crew than has Velasquez. Other than that, there’s not much difference to discuss between these two fighters.
In synopsis, this is either’s fight to win and as fans, all we can do is hope that the match lands somewhere between a mix of their first two bouts; that it’s neither quick nor decisive, nor is it five rounds of drubbing.