It may be a while before Dos Santos recovers, but with the series tied at one apiece as it stands, the two fighters and MMA fans everywhere should entertain the idea of a rubber match with the title at stake once again.
The loss to Dos Santos back in November of 2011 was the only one of Velasquez's UFC career. He was fighting through a knee injury at the time, but firmly denied that it was the determining factor. But it was clear who the better fighter was on Saturday night in Las Vegas.
SportsCenter's official Twitter page documented just how one-sided the affair was despite the fight going the full distance:
SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 30, 2012
The first fight was over in 64 seconds, and Velasquez could have ended the fight after Round 1. A combination of a leg kick and punishing punches pushed Dos Santos against the cage and eventually knocked him down. That set the tone for the rest of the night in the octagon.
Two fights, two convincing wins for both Dos Santos and Velasquez. This most recent encounter also marked Dos Santos' only loss in the UFC.
What other sort of incentive needs to be provided for another showdown?
Velasquez revealed his strategy that helped him succeed so well the second time around (h/t AP via The Daily Globe and Mail):
I knew that Junior was a tough striker and he was able to end our last fight that way, so I was prepared for him this time...I was able to effectively use my striking and my grappling to control him throughout the fight and get the title back.
Velasquez's background as a wrestler at Arizona State certainly served him well, and the boxing brilliance of his opponent couldn't get him out of trouble. Neither could Dos Santos' jiu-jitsu prowess.
Given the time to evaluate what went wrong and how he can improve, Dos Santos is a versatile fighter that can make the necessary adjustments and bounce back in the next encounter. As he said afterwards, he is determined to get his belt back.
However, Dos Santos might not get that opportunity until early 2014.
UFC president Dana White expects Velasquez and Dos Santos to meet again, but as mentioned in an article by John Morgan of USA TODAY, it might be a while before that occurs. White notes that Dos Santos' injuries could prevent a rematch for an extended period of time.
I think trilogies are always awesome, especially when both these fights went the way that they did. I mean, I want to see the third fight. It will be interesting. But this isn't like losing a regular fight. He got beat up pretty bad. It usually takes a little longer to recover from what he went through.
It was a straining, 13-month wait for the second edition of the Velasquez vs. Dos Santos battle. It could be about that long until the two will be prepared to meet again—especially with Velasquez likely to take on an additional fight in the meantime.
But it was worth the wait on Saturday night in Las Vegas, where a record ticket sales of $3.2 million were logged at the MGM Grand Garden.
With true bragging rights and an edge in this emerging rivalry on the line in the next prospective clash, the wait would certainly be worth it once again.