In their first meeting at UFC on Fox 1, dos Santos emphatically ripped the belt from Velasquez's hands with a brutal knockout just over a minute into the first round. Now set to square off at this weekend's highly anticipated rematch, you can expect another exciting affair when the Octagon's doors close on Saturday night.
If the Brazilian wants to come out victorious once again, however, he will need to put on another picture-perfect performance against his longtime rival. Keep reading to see my keys to victory for "Cigano."
First and foremost, dos Santos will need to stay on point with his takedown defense if he wants to beat Velasquez again.
In their first go-around, we didn't really get a chance to see a clash between dos Santos' defense and Velasquez's top-level wrestling, expect for a sloppy shot attempted early in the bout, so it will be interesting to see how they stack up in this rematch.
As long as Cigano can avoid being put on his back, he should be able to control where this fight goes.
One thing I noticed after re-watching some of the champ's recent fights is his propensity to eat leg kicks.
In his last bout against Frank Mir at UFC 146, at one point in the second round, the former champ landed three consecutive leg kicks and constantly kept attacking the legs. Velasquez also looked to land a number of leg strikes in their UFC on Fox bout as well.
At the end of the day, neither fighter was able to use this strategy alone to defeat the champ, but if Velasquez can couple the leg kicks while keeping his distance from the outside, he may be able to do some serious damage.
Dos Santos must stay weary of the leg kicks, check them and counter with his swift hands.
What's going to be key in staying away from the leg kicks, as well as any other power strikes Velasquez might throw, is for dos Santos to use his quick footwork to move in and out of range.
"Cigano" has done a fantastic job thus far doing this against pretty much every one of his UFC opponents, so I expect the champ to keep up the great footwork.
This will also be an integral piece to staying away from the takedowns.
One of the most amazing parts about dos Santos' striking game is his ability to change levels.
The champ does a great job at changing levels, mixing in body and head punches to always keep his opponents guessing.
In his first fight against Velasquez, dos Santos was able to set up his powerful overhand right with a myriad of strikes to the body. If he can mix things up even more, maybe throw in a few takedown shots of his own, the champ should have no problem retaining his title.