UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez has spent all of 2014 recovering from shoulder surgery, following his TKO win over Junior dos Santos last October. Currently eyeing a November UFC 180 bout with resurgent contender Fabricio Werdum, the Mexican-American AKA product has no easy assignment for his return after 13 months.
Junior dos Santos, Velasquez’ three-time rival and former heavyweight champ, feels that Brazilian mat wizard Werdum actually stands a good chance of winning the title, as he spoke with MMAFighting.com:
“Werdum’s last performance was impressive, I’ve never seen him fight so well like he did against Browne. He got a big win and earned a shot at the title. As a Brazilian, I will root for Werdum to bring the UFC title back to Brazil, but he has a difficult task ahead of him,” he said. “Velasquez is an impressive fighter with a great cardio, but I know Werdum is training really hard for that. He stands a chance, yes. If he fights like he did the last time, he has a good chance at winning.”
Werdum’s UFC on FOX 11 showing against Travis Browne was dominant to say the least, but will he be able to implement that style on someone like Velasquez? The champion has made his name by being a cardio freak with heavy hands and world-class wrestling. JDS feels that the difference here may be that Werdum has been active:
“I think it might help Werdum,” he said, “but it doesn’t happen very often these days because the level of training in the gym is do high now, so you can get ready for a fight even if you haven’t fought in a while. I think it won’t be an issue for Velasquez, but can be good for Werdum.”
Having won once against Velasquez, and lost twice, dos Santos probably has more knowledge about the champion’s style than most analysts would. Werdum’s recent form has indicated that he is stepping up his game, and the submission loss he handed ‘Big Nog’ was very impressive indeed. There is a big difference between stepping up, and stepping up to the level of Velasquez though.
The champion, in my mind, is part of the new breed of fighters, as well as the new generation of heavyweights; outstanding cardio, great all-rounders and natural finishers. Werdum will have to put on the performance of 2014 to steal the belt, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible. Who do you think will be champ after UFC 180 in Mexico City?