On Saturday night, the UFC will make its debut on Fox with an explosive UFC heavyweight title matchup between champion Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos and MMAFrenzy is here to break down the championship bout.
Stay tuned to MMAFrenzy for complete coverage of tomorrow’s card, which airs on Fox at 9pm ET after a full preliminary card on Facebook.com/UFC starting at 5pm ET.
Keys for the Champion (CL)- UFC champion Cain Velasquez is coming off a long layoff due to a shoulder injury to a tough first fight back against a formidable opponent in Junior Dos Santos. Dos Santos has the best boxing in the UFC heavyweight division hands down, so it may seem like the smart play is for Velasquez just to stick to his wrestling to pull out a victory here. Well that may not be the case against Dos Santos since he has defended 83% of the takedown attempts he has faced according to Fightmetric. So how does Velasquez retain his title?
Well the first thing Velasquez must do is continue cleaning up his striking by leaving some of the power shots at home. While this may seem ridiculous to suggest for a fighter, those wild shots open yourself up to hard counters from a better boxer. Just watching the Roy Nelson and Shane Carwin fights shows how much damage can be done when fighters swing for the fences on Dos Santos, he will pick you apart and leave you looking like a horror film. Cain likely learned this lesson in his fight with Cheick Kongo. So it is important to stay technical early and often to avoid taking too much damage early.
Both fighters have good gas tanks for their size but as the fight wears on it is harder to keep your hands high. So Velasquez needs to protect as much as he can early to avoid major damage and start setting up takedowns later in the fight. By going for takedowns later in the fight the hope is that your opponent’s takedown defense will relax due to being tired. Both fighters will be tired by that point but having strong wrestling can be a huge advantage late if you do not wear yourself out early.
While ring rust is impossible to ignore, Velasquez is at an elite camp with great trainers who have prepared him for this fight. This fight is one of the closest fights I have ever seen on paper and it is a true 1 versus 2 match-up in the heavyweight division(at least until we see how Overeem does against Lesnar).
Keys for Dos Santos (Bryan Robison) – Before I dive into the analysis of this matchup, I must start with just how exciting this matchup is. This is a matchmaker’s dream, and Dana, Lorenzo Fertita, Joe Silva, and most importantly the fans have arguably the greatest matchup in UFC history to look forward to this Saturday. It is arguably the greatest because to start, it is a heavyweight championship fight.
Since the beginning of boxing’s reign, heavyweight fights have always carried more luster and celebration than any other weight class. The UFC has never had that. While they have had great names come through the ranks, names like Mirko Cro Cop, Randy Couture, and Brock Lesnar, they have never had a true heavyweight fight that brings together the entire array of talents that are displayed throughout the organization. This fight supplies that. This fight has the striking, the jiu-jitsu, the wrestling, the grappling, and most importantly, the entertainment.
Half of that entertainment is provided by Junior Dos Santos. Dos Santos is without question the best boxer in the heavyweight division. He knocked out Fabricio Werdum in his first career UFC fight at UFC 90, and he has been displaying his striking prowess in every fight since then.
That advantage alone will be the key to Dos Santos winning. While Velasquez without question has great cardio and a great chin, it has only been tested once. Cheick Kongo was able to knock Velasquez down twice. Unfortunately for Kongo, he was unable to finish the champion. If Dos Santos is able to knock Velasquez down, he will seize the opportunity, unlike Kongo.
Another positive for Dos Santos is his improved cardio. While he has not finished his last two opponents, we were finally able to see if he could survive a fight that went the entire fifteen minutes. He dominated both Roy Nelson and Shane Carwin for those six rounds in total. As long as Dos Santos is more versatile with his strikes, as he continued to throw only punches during the Nelson fight, Dos Santos can keep Velasquez guessing through the third, fourth, and fifth rounds.
Dos Santos was even able to take Carwin down a couple of times during their fight, an area that certainly will be utilized by Velasquez during the fight.
One can easily see how excited Dana White is about this matchup, stating that if the fight goes 30 seconds or 30 minutes (which isn’t possible), it will be a hell of a fight. He is absolutely spot-on with that assessment. As the UFC enters the most crucial era of their existence, there is no better way to start than with Dos Santos and Velasquez.