Cain Velasquez: Can He Surpass Fedor as Best Heavyweight Ever?

Jordy McElroyCorrespondent IJanuary 5, 2013

Cain Velasquez - Esther Lin/MMAFighting
Cain Velasquez - Esther Lin/MMAFighting

For Cain Velasquez, vengeance is a dish best served cold.

The MMA world had all but abandoned the "Brown Pride" advocate after his 64-second knockout loss to Junior Dos Santos in Nov., 2011.

It's a familiar feeling for fighters coming off losses. You're only as good as your last fight, and people tend to write off your future in the sport.

It was no different for Velasquez, despite being undefeated and a former UFC champion. The floodgates opened on endless questions that would haunt him for over a year.

Does he have a weak chin? Was his quality of opposition overrated? Did pundits overestimate his future as MMA's next all-time great?

Even after returning and steamrolling Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva, the same questions lingered for Velasquez like a festering sickness refusing to go away. At UFC 155, Velasquez put all of the questions to bed with a one-sided thrashing of Dos Santos to reclaim the UFC title.

It was an eye-opening performance for those who hopped the fence for greener pastures. Velasquez is every bit as good as initially believed.

With that said, the heavyweight division is a revolving door, and champions don't tend to last very long. No champion in UFC history has ever successfully defended the heavyweight title more than twice consecutively.

Velasquez hasn't even been champ for a week, and he is already drawing comparisons to MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko.

The Velasquez and Emelianenko comparisons are warranted due to a multitude of similarities. Both men appear withdrawn emotionally from media and fans, which adds to the mystique. They are men of few words who look more like modern-day executioners than fighters.

The only thing Velasquez is missing is some scary Russian entrance music.

Despite never fighting in the UFC, Emelianenko is by far the greatest heavyweight in MMA history. He remained unbeaten for nearly a decade, and his championship tenure in Pride Fighting Championships came at a time when the Japanese-based promotion had the best heavyweights in the world.

Will Velasquez be the UFC's first ever dominant heavyweight champ? Could he possibly even surpass Emelianenko as the greatest heavyweight of all-time?

As great as Velasquez is, it's highly unlikely he will go undefeated for 10 years. There is no disputing Emelianenko's greatness, but fans should be mindful of the fact that he didn't always face quality opposition.

It's hard to stay on top when you're constantly fighting the best in the world, which is what Velasquez will be forced to do in the UFC. There won't be any sideshow attractions like Emelianenko had against Zulu, Matt Lindland and Hong-man Choi.

Velasquez's primary focus should be defending his UFC title for as long as possible and knocking off as many top contenders as he can in the process. Fans tend to bloviate the importance of records, but in reality, a fighter's legacy is determined by the quality of opponents.

Randy Couture's record stands at 19-11. Would you not consider him an all-time great?

Everything Emelianenko has achieved over the course of his career stands alone in MMA history. For Velasquez, it shouldn't be about passing Emelianenko. He has the ability to carve out a legacy of his own that will be remembered for generations to come.

Fans will always debate all-time greats by comparing past and present champions. The same is true for every sport. Unfortunately, there isn't a single formula to calculate the greatest of all time.

For some, Emelianenko's win streak and enduring legacy ensures his position atop the heavyweight hierarchy. For others, a great run as UFC champ is all Velasquez needs to be considered the best heavyweight ever.

First things first, Velasquez has to defend his title.