Once Daniel “DC” Cormier gets done doing work against Roy Nelson this Saturday, October 19, 2013, two of the most destructive heavyweight fighters to step in the cage stand across from each other for the third time. Defending champion Cain Velasquez and former titleholder Junior “Cigano” Dos Santos take the top of the UFC 166 fight card from the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.
Dos Santos emerged victorious in their first meeting on Fox Sports 1, coming out with a somewhat surprising 64-second knockout win over Velasquez. Cigano then defended the title against Frank Mir at UFC 146. Velasquez rebounded from his loss to JDS on the same evening when he decimated Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, in one of the most horrific stoppages you’ll ever witness in the UFC, setting up the sequel with the Brazilian striker at UFC 155.
Velasquez came rushing out of the gate in the rematch and varied his attack between punches, kicks, and takedowns. Fans may not have noticed that it wasn’t the wrestling of Velasquez that had Dos Santos in early trouble. It was the pressure he put forth that didn’t give his opponent a chance to time any power punches and he forced JDS backwards for the majority of the opening frame.
Even though Velasquez says he’s ready to put Cigano through five more rounds of unrelenting punishment, there’s no doubt that he’ll want to get Dos Santos out of there as soon as possible in the trilogy. The Brazilian’s camp is already denying the vicious beating that was put on their star pupil, saying Cain hits like a girl and Dos Santos’ punch made him quit in their initial meeting.
Although Velasquez was unsuccessful with six of his takedown attempts in the opening round, the presence of wrestling still had Dos Santos fighting off a takedown, keeping him guessing, while allowing Velasquez to get off some heavy strikes in the first round. Similar to what we saw in the Erick Silva vs. Dong Hyun Kim fight – the relentless pressure of Kim had Silva thinking about fending off takedowns for the majority of the fight before a stinging left finished the Brazilian.
I’m expecting to see the same well-rounded approach from Velasquez that he brought to the rematch last December. He won’t give Dos Santos the opportunity to string together any offensive maneuvers, and if Cain polishes up his performance in the second fight, he’s gonna close this series by way of knockout.
Dos Santos has earned my respect in losing to Velasquez by showing the heart of a soldier and he never stopped trying until the final bell. Even while being put through a rigorous defeat. Moreover, the Brazilian’s only interest is blasting through all of his opponents with his powerful punches – which is a trait that any fight fan can appreciate – but I have to side with Velasquez’s finishing ability in this one. There just wasn’t enough resistance brought by Dos Santos in the rematch to lead me to believe anything beside a finish from Velasquez will go differently in the trilogy.
Prediction: Velasquez via Round One TKO