Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos stand alone atop the UFC’s heavyweight division.
Saturday’s heavyweight bonanza saw each man dispatch their foe in trademark fashion; Cain with a thunderous ground attack and dos Santos with furious boxing.
In a division where contenders are few, an eventual rematch between the juggernauts seems inevitable. Expect them to clash again soon.
Their first bout saw dos Santos’s granite hands prevail before Velasquez could pose a takedown. But Velasquez’s performance on Saturday was telling: his wrestling is still elite and his ground attack is still gruesome. Against a giant, the Division I wrestler’s downpour of punches fell relentlessly, showcasing his cardio and appreciable bloodthirst.
We really didn’t learn much about either titan from UFC 146. We already knew which of their respective skills sparkle, and those skills continued to shine on Saturday.
Velasquez, however, didn’t look tentative against Bigfoot as he did against the champion. Perhaps if he can channel that primal rage against dos Santos and throw caution into the wind, he can be the one to truly test the champ’s takedown defense, something Frank Mir’s feeble attempts didn’t do.
Velasquez’s power double-leg is the best in the division.
Velasquez’s wrestling acumen separates him from other UFC heavyweights. The division consists mainly of strikers and grapplers who’re incapable of dictating where their fights take place. Velasquez’s wrestling grants him that privilege: he’s completed 16 takedowns in the UFC against being grounded only twice, as per UFC.com.
If their first fight lingered on, perhaps we’d have a less murky idea of what dos Santos’s takedown defense is. Sure, statistically he’s warded off almost every takedown, but he’s hardly been tested by a strong wrestler.
Division II wrestler Shane Carwin was broken by dos Santos’s soul-crushing hands before he could persist with takedowns, but even a half-dead Carwin planted JDS on the mat in round three.
If Velasquez comes out with the same fire and willingness he did on Saturday, I could see him tarnishing the champ’s immaculate image and perhaps bombarding dos Santos on the ground until he wilts.
The landscape of the heavyweight division has yet to settle.