Junior Dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez: Keys to Victory for Cain Velasquez
Cain Velasquez steps in to the main event looking to erase the lone loss on his record and reclaim the UFC Heavyweight Championship.
Standing across the cage will be Junior dos Santos. Without question these are the two best heavyweights MMA has ever seen.
Velasquez rebounded from the KO loss by defeating Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva at UFC 146. It was a bloodbath. Velasquez opened Silva up and blood poured everywhere as the title contender continued his ferocious beatdown.
That outcome is unlikely against Dos Santos.
Here are five keys for Velasquez's title hopes on Saturday night.
Do Not Stand in Front of JDS
We can file this under the title of common sense. Do not stand in front of the best striker in the division.
That is asking for trouble.
Velasquez needs to continuously move. Footwork and head movement may be the biggest factor for the challenger entering the fight. Each round starts on the feet and Dos Santos will connect at some point. He needs to slip and escape before being tagged.
Velasquez paid the price in the first meeting. He is an intelligent fighter that will remember his mistakes and fix them. Expect Velasquez to be much more mobile than in the first fight. Both fighters being injury free for the rematch will also play a big factor in movement.
Take JDS Down
This is also a no-brainer. Velasquez should go to his bread and butter against Dos Santos.
Easier said than done. Dos Santos has remarkable takedown defense; 88 percent throughout his UFC career.
Velasquez is an accomplished wrestler who has utilized that skill to perfection in MMA. He needs to attempt to get Dos Santos to the ground early and often.
Dos Santos will be prepared for Velasquez's takedown attempts, but they will be tough to stop if he can mix things up. He is technically sound on his feet. While he won't want a striking battle with Dos Santos it will open up the takedowns.
Velasquez doesn't have to shoot from the opening bell, but he has to try and put Dos Santos on his back.
Be Relentless on the Mat
If Velasquez gets Dos Santos down he must maintain the position. Dos Santos will try to work quickly back to his feet.
What Velasquez did to Bigfoot Silva is what he must do to Dos Santos.
When Velasquez had Silva down on the mat he gave him very little room to execute anything. From attempting to sweep, get a submission or stand back up, the opportunity was never there. Velasquez rode him to perfection.
He cannot allow Dos Santos time to stand back up. It may not be the most pleasing thing to do, but Velasquez should grind on Dos Santos through the early rounds. Do not be concerned with damage. Stay on top and make Dos Santos expend energy.
Pressure, Pressure, Pressure
There is no heavyweight on the planet that has the endurance of Velasquez. Because of this distinct advantage he must constantly pressure Dos Santos.
On the feet, on the ground, he must pressure the champion.
Giving Dos Santos space is dangerous. Allowing him to come forward and stalk is a terrible decision. Forcing him to be on his heels is what Velasquez needs to do.
The challenger should have no concerns of tiring in this fight. That may be the biggest asset either fighter has entering UFC 155. Velasquez needs to turn up the pace for however long the fight lasts.
Drag the Fight to the Championship Rounds
If Velasquez can keep Dos Santos on his heels he needs to drag this fight in to deep water and drown the champion.
Dos Santos has only went 15 minutes twice in his career. Velasquez needs to make him go over that limit.
In those two decision wins for the champion he was the one doing most of the work. He wore down Roy Nelson and Shane Carwin by beating them up. However, he was visibly tiring as well. If Velasquez can wear him down he will be wearing gold once again.
Velasquez's cardio will not fail him. The championship rounds will teach Dos Santos a valuable lesson if Velasquez can get him there. It will be a place where the challenger can take over the fight and reclaim the championship.
The longer the fight goes the better it is for Velasquez. He should force Dos Santos to prove he has what it takes to go a hard 25.