UFC 155: 5 Key Facts About Junior Dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez
This coming Saturday at UFC 155 in Las Vegas, the UFC heavyweight title picture will close out a full year of mixed martial arts when champion Junior dos Santos faces Cain Velasquez.
Their first match wasn't under the best of circumstances, as a lengthy build-up to the UFC's single-fight event on Fox ended in an anti-climatic first-round flash knockout.
Hopefully, this rematch will provide a more complex victory for either fighter this time around, especially now that Velasquez is entering the bout fully recovered from an ACL injury that threatened to sideline him in November last year.
With that in mind, here's five interesting key facts that UFC fans should keep in mind during the lead-up to the titanic heavyweight rematch.
JDS Holds the UFC Record for Longest Winning Streak at Heavyweight
Junior dos Santos' MMA career just looks more and more impressive with time.
Not only is "Cigano" the UFC's current heavyweight champion, but he also possesses the longest winning streak in the division at nine victories over more than four years.
Moreover, JDS holds the third-longest winning streak among active fighters in the promotion altogether, surpassed only by Anderson Silva (16 victories) and Georges St-Pierre (10 victories).
Considering that JDS' victims include three former UFC champions and several top-10 heavyweight fighters, he could very easily find himself continuing to challenge for those all-time records.
Velasquez and JDS Hold 7 Combined All-Time UFC Striking Records
Although many MMA pundits and fans think that Cain Velasquez's wrestling will be the difference-maker in this rematch, JDS' stellar takedown defense could make it a striking duel.
If that happens, don't be so quick to count Velasquez out.
According to Fight Metric, the American Kickboxing Academy star is actually one of the fastest, most efficient strikers in the UFC, holding all-time company records for significant strike accuracy (No. 2), strikes landed per minute (No. 1), strikes absorbed per minute (No. 7) and a top-ranked 6.24 strike differential (No. 1).
Dos Santos is no slouch either, though.
Currently, the champion holds three all-time UFC records of his own for knockdowns landed (No. 7), strikes landed per minute (No. 2) and a 4.78 strike differential (No. 2)—second only to Velasquez.
Either way, takedowns may play a part in the end, but the distinction as the UFC's most dangerous heavyweight stand-up artist is also on the line here.
Junior Dos Santos Has Not Lost a Single Round in His UFC Career
Granted, it's hard to lose rounds when you've finished six of nine UFC opponents by knockout, with five of those in the first round.
But in the few times that JDS has gone the distance with hardy fighters, he's kept up nicely.
In battles with Frank Mir, Shane Carwin and Roy Nelson, dos Santos dominated from the early bell. And even when opponents have lasted three rounds, judges have turned in one-sided scores of 30-27 and 30-26 for the champion.
So far, JDS' closest fight was Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic, as the kickboxing legend gamely returned fire at dos Santos during the first round of their UFC 103 match. Cro Cop still visibly lost that five-minute sequence, but that's remained one of the better rounds anyone's had against the champion yet.
JDS and Velasquez Suffered Knee Injuries Before UFC on Fox 1
Just two weeks before his first title defense at UFC on Fox in November 2011, Velasquez suffered a knee injury during filming for a Dethrone commercial.
Rather than pull out of the fight, Velasquez elected to save the UFC's heavily-promoted first Fox broadcast and face dos Santos.
This time, Velasquez insists that he's 100 percent recovered.
Judging by the absolute dominance he displayed against Antonio Silva during the all-heavyweight UFC 146 card, there's no reason to doubt that the former champion is in nothing less than great shape for his return to the title picture.
Dos Santos also suffered an injury prior to the fight, a torn meniscus from a training incident.
Although doctors cleared JDS to compete at UFC on Fox 1, the champion still required knee surgery after the fact. "Cigano" looked very mobile in his last bout against Frank Mir, though, so he should be just fine heading leading up to Saturday's card.
Neither JDS Nor Velasquez Are the Lineal UFC Heavyweight Champion
If you adhere to the old saying "you've got to beat the man to be the man," then Alistair Overeem is really the so-called baddest man on the planet.
Generally, the idea of a lineal champion means that a title changes hands not with a belt, but instead follows the successor in victory, no matter the company or promotion.
As the history books show, the UFC has several lineal champions for their original titles fighting in their promotion from heavyweight down, with the only rare oddity being the lineal UFC middleweight crown being held by Bellator's Maiquel Falcao.
Additionally, Overeem has actually been the lineal UFC champion ever since he defeated Fabricio Werdum in Strikeforce, who in turn defeated long-time heavyweight kingpin Fedor Emelianenko.
UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture was actually the last fighter to hold the lineal UFC heavyweight title while fighting in the UFC itself, before losing the title overseas to Enson Inoue.
If Overeem successfully defeats Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva at UFC 156, his expected title shot against the winner of Junior dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez will uniquely put three titles on the line: the UFC Heavyweight Championship, the lineal MMA Openweight Title and the lineal UFC Heavyweight Title.