Welcome to the Cain Velasquez era—again.
Considering the UFC's heavyweight division has been among the most volatile divisions in the organization's history, it feels silly to deem any champion's reign as an era, but Velasquez is at least the baddest man on the planet for now.
At UFC 160, he'll be looking to make this reign much more impressive than his last. After originally winning the championship at UFC 121 against Brock Lesnar, he failed to defend it successfully even once. He found himself on the wrong side of a Junior dos Santos overhand right that put him out in just over a minute.
This time around, Velasquez will look to defend his title against another massive power puncher. But this time, he comes in with the confidence that he has already beaten his opponent once.
Antonio Silva had the misfortune of making his Octagon debut against Velasquez at UFC 146 and the results weren't pretty.
Silva has since redeemed himself with back-to-back knockout victories over Travis Browne and Alistair Overeem.
While those wins may not be enough to erase the memory of Silva's bloody bludgeoning at the hands of Velasquez, it's reasonable to think that he could have had UFC debut jitters and has improved since then. Here's how the two match up.
All statistics via FightMetric unless otherwise noted.
Cain Velasquez may have a serious wrestling background, but his boxing is an underrated tool that can be overlooked. He doesn't have the best one-punch power in the division, but his pace is something that most heavyweights just can't deal with.
Velasquez averages an incredible 6.21 significant strikes landed per minute at 58 percent accuracy. For comparison, that's more than the combined rate of fellow UFC 160 combatants TJ Grant (3.81) and Gray Maynard (2.05).
Silva only averages 2.76 significant strikes per minute, there's simply no way that he can keep up with the pace that Velasquez sets on the feet.
This means that Bigfoot must look to land big shots early on when they present themselves. Velasquez's cardio allows him to maintain that pace for five rounds. Silva won't survive if he doesn't get to the champion early.
Silva has knockout power as evidenced by his finishes of Overeem and Browne, but he'll have to swing for the fences.
This is yet another decided advantage for Velasquez on paper. The champion is adept at using his elite wrestling background to wear on opponents, regardless of size.
He averages 6.61 takedowns per 15 minutes and can just demoralize opponents with his grappling prowess. Even if Silva gets the best of him on the feet, it's likely that Velasquez will be able to take him down; Cain lands 52 percent of his attempts.
If Silva wants to utilize his size to set up takedowns, he's going against long odds. Velasquez uses his athleticism to shut down takedown attempts at an alarming rate (88 percent).
The champion may not be a submission ace. He's never won a fight by submission and prefers to use his nasty ground and pound, but he holds the advantage on the ground, too.
There's a reason that Velasquez is a heavy favorite here. He holds a distinct advantage where the fight winds up going and already holds a dominant win.
That being said, this is the heavyweight division. Every fight can change with just one strike and this one should be entertaining as long as it lasts.
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