Junior "Cigano" dos Santos will walk into—and out of—UFC 155 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas as the UFC Heavyweight Champion on Saturday night.
It was just over a year ago that dos Santos and Cain Velasquez met at UFC on Fox 1—a night when everything changed. In the blink of an eye—64 seconds, to be exact—dos Santos went from contender to champion.
This time around, it might last a bit longer—the bout might even make it to the second round—but the end result will be the same.
Velazquez wasn't just beaten by dos Santos, he was annihilated and embarrassed on national television for the first time in his career. He's going to come into the rematch looking for vengeance, attacking the champion from the onset in an attempt to get dos Santos onto the mat.
But even if Velasquez succeeds in taking dos Santos down—where the challenger has the advantage—Cigano's skills on the mat have been underrated. And as the champ told MMA Junkie Radio, he's prepared for whatever Velasquez throws his way:
I prefer to fight on my feet. I prefer to keep it standing, because I'm very confident in that area, and I believe I can knock anyone out in the world. But I'm not going to go to the ground if the guy doesn't take me down. Cain is a really good wrestler, and he's got a good chance to take me down. If he takes me down and holds me there, then you guys will see my jiu-jitsu.
I train a lot of jiu-jitsu too, and I can tell you I'm ready to submit someone. If the fight goes to the ground and I can't come back to my feet, I'm going to be looking to submit him.
The champion knows what Velasquez's plan of attack is, and he's more than prepared for it. All dos Santos needs is an opening—a split second where Velasquez drops his guard—to land one of his game-changing, fight-ending power punches.
Velasquez is more than familiar with those punches.
The challenger's aggressive attempts to bring the fight to the mat are going to leave him vulnerable to counter-attack from the champion. And when it comes, it's going to be just as it was the last time: a knockout victory for dos Santos.