Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Outside of the obvious areas of striking, grappling and submissions, this matchup has some interesting elements at play.
X-Factor for Velasquez
For new champion Cain Velasquez, cardio is the biggest X-factor. He did gas a bit against dos Santos, but it was clear he had much more in the tank for the bout's duration.
Like he said in the post-fight interview, keeping that kind of pace is insanely difficult for any fighter, let alone a big heavyweight in the fight of his life, and simply staying effective for the full 25 minutes is an accomplishment.
Overeem has only won twice via decision, and his most recent victory via this method against Fabricio Werdum was one of the strangest fights in MMA history. The pace was not really pushed at all in that bout, and Werdum seemed content to play the role of Paris Hilton and lay on his back for fifteen minutes.
This suggests that Velasquez will have a definitive advantage in the cardio department, and I expect that to play a huge role in a potential matchup.
X-Factor for Overeem
Are you clean, bro?
...And if so, are you still the beast we all think you are?
I don't want to start the steroid discussion, but you kind of have to with a guy who looks like the offspring of Lou Ferrigno and Ronnie Coleman (go ahead and picture that...like two Rhino's fighting over a T-bone steak, isn't it?).
There's also that part where Overeem is currently serving a suspension for just this reason, so, yeah, you pretty much can't avoid the topic here.
If Overeem comes in clean against "Big Foot" and he is still as brutal as we all expect, I think we should cast aside the steroid discussion leading up to his title fight with Velasquez (hint: we still won't).
Still, as of now, you have to think about it, and it's an unfortunate point that needs to be considered.