Giants are in the land and have begun to take the final steps towards their battlefield on a quest for the ultimate crown in MMA, the UFC heavyweight championship. Reigning as the current division king of the organization and arguably, all heavyweights in the sport is Cain Velasquez (9-0) who will be in his first fight in over a year, laid up for some time due to a shoulder injury sustained in claiming the championship back in October 2010. Across the mat will be his biggest threat to date, an equally fast, heavy-handed and determined challenger, Junior Dos Santos (13-1).
AKA’s champion will have many attributes benefiting his game plan and ability to retain his belt in front of the Anaheim crowd and millions watching at home. Fighting 78% of his professional career inside the UFC, he is not fazed or distracted by the crowd or any other pressures from being at the top of the competition level. Those who have fallen by his hands have been seasoned veterans and former champions: Ben Rothwell, Minotauro Nogueira and Brock Lesnar. Having only gone to decision once in his career, Velasquez focused more on finishing the fight after going the distance with Cheick Kongo.
“Cigano” has traveled through the local Brazilian promotions and local fights before setting foot inside the octagon in 2009, when he did he finished the favored Fabricio Werdum and earned “knockout of the night” honors. As he continued fights for Zuffa, his record remained with only one loss as he defeated Mirko CroCop, Roy Nelson, Shane Carwin and others, earning him the opportunity to win the UFC title tomorrow night. Moving fast and very athletic for his size, he also possesses boxing skills that are elite for his sport, factor in the desire to get better in every element of the game, it would appear that he may be the man to upset Velasquez’ career win streak.
Aside from both men’s qualities and strengths, they have their weaknesses that could be exposed tomorrow night. Cain Velasquez has only been to decision once and it was in a three round fight. If this fight goes into the championship rounds, will his explosiveness and seemingly “endless” cardio still be there or will he gas early from ring rust? The punching power and hand speed of JDS will also be an issue for the champion, if Cain cannot establish his distance and timing early in the fight and avoid staying open for shots.
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Dos Santos has been dominant in each of his UFC matches, even against men who posed as a threat. Fighting in a championship bout against someone equally dangerous as yourself may challenge him mentally and could lose his focus on the task at hand. Going from a streak of finishing fights via knockout and then winning your last two by decision will also dictate the mentality of “Cigano” after the ref says fight, he needs to pay attention to what got him there and know that he can win this bout and more importantly, finish Velasquez.
Some fights can “go both ways” but that is a tagline thrown to get viewers to buy a PPV; this is one fight where it is the truth and not just a tagline. Either of these warriors can emerge victorious in numerous fashions and is the wise move on UFC and FOX to have this serve as their inaugural show.
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